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Retail Briefs

Belk Ekes out 1Q profit

Family-owned Belk Stores last week reported a first quarter profit of $500,000, well off the $5.1 million the retailer reported in last year's first quarter.

"First-quarter results were in line with our expectations," said Tim Belk, chairman and ceo. "Although results continue to reflect the weakened economy, we have begun to see some stabilization in the operating environment, which is positive."

The balance, he added, had more than $250 million in cash, almost twice the amount Belk had at the end of the year-ago period.

Sales for the first quarter ended May 2 fell 6.9% to $760.9 million, with comps dropping off 7.7%.

The 308-unit regional department store opened three new stores during the quarter: Newman and Winder, Ga.; and Richmond, Ky. Belk also completed a store expansion in Knoxville, Tenn., and is on track to compete store expansions later this year in Ashland, Ky., and Hilton Head Island, N.C.

ShopNBC Narrows First-Quarter Loss,

ShopNBC narrowed its first-quarter loss to $12 million from $17.6 million a year ago. Gross margin slipped to 31.5% from 32.0% last year, but marked an improvement of 260 basis points over the previous quarter. Sales dropped 14% to $134 million owing to a 26% decrease in average selling price.

During last month's first-quarter conference call, Keith Stewart, president and ceo of ShopNBC, said he is confident that the company "is headed in the right direction." The company has reduced its cost structure by 21% through a reduction in work force and other cost-saving measures, and "costs are well under control," according to Stewart.

Door Store files for Chapter 11

Door Store, with nine stores in New York and New Jersey, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In its petition filed last Wednesday, the company listed assets of $2.6 million and debts of $2.2 million.

Jodi Fitzgerald, president and coo of the family-owned business established in New York in 1955, said in a court document that the company's financial difficulties were caused by "the general economic climate resulting in weakening sales, unprofitable lease locations, litigation with landlords and diminishing operating funds."

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