For the first quarter, net sales were $540.9 million compared to $388.0 million in last year's first quarter. This 39.4% improvement primarily reflects a comparable sales increase of 40.6%, partially offset by 29 permanent store closures since last year's first quarter. The 40.6% comparable sales improvement was driven by an increase in transaction count and higher average dollar sale. Gross margin was $216.6 million, or 40.0% of net sales, compared to $126.8 million, or 32.7% of net sales, in last year's first quarter. The 730-basis point improvement in gross margin rate primarily reflects higher average unit retail and full price sales combined with occupancy leverage that offset elevated raw material and freight costs. At the end of the first quarter, inventories totaled $325.6 million compared to $209.7 million at the end of last year's first quarter. The $115.9 million, or 55.3%, increase from last year's first quarter primarily reflects elevated on-hand inventories to align with higher consumer demand, an increase in in-transit inventories due to extended in-transit times in the global supply chain, strategic investments in basics and replenishment inventories, and higher average unit costs.
Newsquest Media Group announced today the acquisition of NWN Media Ltd (NWN), the publisher of 13 local news brands across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.
The NWN Board unanimously accepted the Newsquest offer which will now allow the company to move forward with confidence in a fast-changing media landscape.
NWN’s portfolio comprises 12 weekly newspapers and one daily, with associated websites, including the likes of The Leader (Wrexham and Flintshire), the Chester Standard, the Powys County Times, the Denbighshire Free Press, the Whitchurch Herald and the North Wales Chronicle. NWN also operates an extensive contract printing operation.
Henry Faure Walker, Newsquest CEO said: “NWN Media comprises a stable of really strong local mediabrandsthatcommandgreattrustandunrivalledaudiencesintheircommunities. We’relooking forward to working with the NWN staff as they continue to transition their business to a successful and more sustainable future. We aim to facilitate a structure whereby they can benefit from the resources that Newsquest can provide whilst enabling them to carry on doing what they do best – namely providing first class local content, and advertising solutions for the readers and businesses in their region.”
David Faulkner, Managing Director of NWN Media said: “This is good news indeed and I strongly believe it is the best way forward for our group of titles. Our brands continue to command significant loyalty in our market places and the added resource scale and investment potential that Newsquest will bring will be invaluable to our continuing profitability. Our company has always been proud to be locally owned but I believe that this is an important step into the future at a time when the media landscape demands creativity and innovation more than ever to ensure success.”
Barrie Jones, NWN Executive Editorial Director said: “I think this is excellent news for the company and I look forward to working with Newsquest in continuing to publish some great papers in our regions while at the same time grasping new opportunities of moving our business forward.”