Bakers Narrows Q1 Loss

Bakers Footwear Group Inc. narrowed its first-quarter loss and refinanced its debt.

For the period ended April 28, the St. Louis-based firm’s net loss was $1.1 million, or 11 cents a share — compared with a net loss of $2.5 million, or 27 cents, in the first quarter last year.

Net sales declined 5.7 percent to $44.3 million, from $47 million, on the back of a 2.7 percent decrease in comparable store sales.

The firm made small improvements in gross-profit margin and selling, general and administrative expenses, as well as a modest gain on the disposition of property and equipment related to the sale of a store lease.

“Our first-quarter performance reflects our strategy to reduce inventories while delivering a steady flow of fashion-right assortments. This, combined with our cost containment initiatives, drove a significant narrowing in our operating loss in the quarter from the first quarter last year,” Peter Edison, Chairman and CEO of Bakers, said in a statement.

Edison added that for the rest of 2012 the strategy is to focus on managing inventory and faster turns to improve the firm’s liquidity.

Bakers increased its cash balance to $214,000, from $132,000 a year ago. It also reduced its shareholders’ deficit to $8.4 million, versus $17.6 million a year ago.

In addition, the company entered into a $30 million, four-year credit facility with Crystal Financial, which replaces its existing credit facility with Bank of America, which stood at about $15 million at quarter’s end.

“The team at Crystal Financial has been a long-term partner of [Bakers]. This new credit agreement enhances our financial flexibility as we lengthen the maturity by three years and increase the availability under the facility by several million dollars,” Edison said.

Bakers forecasts mid-single digit decreases in comparable store sales in the second quarter and mid-single digit increases for the second half of fiscal year 2012.

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