YORK, Pa.-Net income for Bon-Ton in its fiscal fourth quarter fell 8 percent to $78.2 million, bringing it to a fiscal-year net loss of $12.1 million.
Sales declines combined with cost increases to slim the bottom line in the quarter, which ended on Jan. 28. Net sales dropped 2.7 percent to $983.2 million, including a same-store sales decrease of 2.6 percent. For the fiscal year as a whole, net sales were off 3.2 percent to $2.9 billion, including a 2.8 percent drop in same-store sales.
Gross margin in the quarter fell 250 basis points to 34.6 percent, reflecting Bon-Ton’s aggressive markdown strategy resulting from softness in its traditional businesses. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 1.7 percent in dollars and were up 112 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 26.4 percent.
Although the fiscal year ended poorly, Brendan Hoffman, Bon-Ton’s president and CEO, expressed optimism about the retailer’s future. Hoffman said he expected the new fiscal year to show improvements resulting from updated merchandise in all categories, a “Rediscover” marketing campaign and an improvement in shoppers’ experiences in the store through its “Customer First” program.