The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. Reports Third Quarter Fiscal 2017 Results

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. (OTCQX:BONT) today reported operating results for its fiscal third quarter ended October 28, 2017, and updated its earnings guidance for the full year fiscal 2017.

Results for the Third Quarter Ended October 28, 2017
•Comparable store sales decreased 6.6% as compared with the prior year period.
•Selling, general and administrative (“SG&A”) expense decreased $11.2 million, or 5.2%, as compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2016.
•Net loss in the current year third quarter was $44.9 million, or $2.19 per share, compared with net loss of $31.6 million, or $1.58 per share, in the third quarter of fiscal 2016.
•Adjusted EBITDA was negative $5.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017.  Adjusted EBITDA in the third quarter of fiscal 2016 was $10.6 million.  (As used in this release, Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure recognized under generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”)—see the accompanying financial table which reconciles this non-GAAP measure to net loss.)

William Tracy, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “While results in the third quarter fell short of our expectations, we are taking more aggressive actions to fuel improved performance as well as strengthen our financial position. We are executing with a sense of urgency as we work to enhance our merchandise assortment, drive growth in  omnichannel, and implement a more focused marketing strategy to improve traffic and customer engagement. We are also focused on cost reductions through the continued rollout of our profit improvement initiatives. In addition, we expect to implement a significant store rationalization program and plan to close at least 40 locations through 2018. This will enable us with moving forward with a more productive store footprint and redirecting capital expenditures toward investments designed to drive sales growth. We are working with our advisors to proactively engage with our debt holders to establish a sustainable capital structure to support the business. We believe that the actions we are taking position us to drive improved and consistent financial performance over the long term. With our new merchandising initiatives in place and more seasonable November weather, we are already seeing a positive comparable store sales trend and believe we are well-positioned for a successful holiday season.”

Third Quarter Review
Comparable store sales in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 decreased 6.6%, reflecting in part the impact of unseasonably warm weather.  Total sales in the period decreased 7.6% to $545.3 million, compared with $589.9 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2016.

The Company continued its double-digit sales growth in omnichannel, which reflects sales via the Company’s website, mobile site, and its Let Us Find It customer service program. This was driven by increased demand and conversion on both the Company’s eCommerce and mobile platforms during the quarter as the Company leveraged its West Jefferson facility and store-fulfillment network.

Other income in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was $17.1 million, a decrease of $0.2 million over the comparable prior year period.  The decrease was primarily due to lower revenues associated with the Company’s proprietary credit card operations.  Proprietary credit card sales, as a percentage of total sales, increased approximately 90 basis points to 57.9% in the third quarter of fiscal 2017.

The gross margin rate in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 was 33.1% of net sales, a decrease of approximately 200 basis points as compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2016 due to an increase in the markdown rate driven by a shift in merchandise mix.  Gross profit decreased $26.8 million to $180.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2017, primarily as a result of decreased sales volume.
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