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Home no standout in Dillard’s tough first quarter

Little Rock,Ark.– Fleet-footed activity in the shoe department wasn’t enough to carry the chain as first-quarter net income for Dillard’s Inc. dropped to $42.9 million from $61.3 million for the same period one year ago.

Net sales dropped 3.9% to $1.76 billion from $1.84 billion last year. Comp sales fell 5%, the company said.

The 328-unit Southeastern department store chain said that the footwear category “significantly outperformed” the storewide average, and singled out juniors’ and children’s clothing as laggards. There was no mention of the home departments; HTT research pegged Dillard’s 2005 home textiles revenues at $118.0 million.

Dillard’s said it was able to improve its gross margin rate 40 basis points (0.4%) by squeezing that much out of the cost of goods. SG&A expenses, however, rose 130 basis points, to 28.3% of sales. Inventories were trimmed by about 1% to $2.03 billion, while interest and debt expense was cut by 12.3% to $20.7 million.

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