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Strong Q1 results set "solid start" for Stein Mart in 2011; home on road to recovery

Jacksonville, Fla. - Stein Mart is off to a "solid start" for the year, as its first quarter results proved encouraging.

Home was not singled out as among the quarter's sales drivers. But "accelerating growth in the home category is a priority" this year and beyond, noted president and ceo David Stovall Jr. during the off-price mid-tier department store's earnings call this morning.

That effort is being lead by Jane Dever, who was recently hired as the retailer's new vice president and general merchandise manager, home.

"Jane brings extensive experience in the home category and we're excited to have her on the Stein Mart team," the company said. Dever's resume includes home-related positions at Macy's, Robinson's and May Company.

Stovall said that since joining Stein Mart in April, Dever "has hit the ground running and is working with her team to make [home] a category with distinctive merchandise."

Stein Mart's results for its first quarter, ended April 30, included modest increases in sales and comps as well as double-digit increases in net income.

Net income grew 11% to $15.9 million or 35 cents per share. Sales were up by 0.8% to $303.5 million, and comps increased 1.5%.

Pricing continues to be a topic concerning investors and analysts, and Stein Mart was not exempt from inquiries about its approach to the impacts.

"Our price increase have been in the single-digit range, and we expect more in the second half in the mid-single to low-double-digit range," responded Stovall, adding that Stein Mart is "working with our vendors to reduce the impact...and we're reviewing all [pricing] decisions thoughtfully."

Another area of focus this year for Stein Mart is modernizing its image as it aggressively pursues younger and Hispanic customers. The retailer launched its first Hispanic-targeting advertising program during the first quarter, and received a strong response from this segment of shoppers. The plan is now to expand the effort and continue to appeal to bilingual shoppers via more advertising and expanded merchandise offerings.

On a related note, Stein Mart is also this year investing more than $3 million to renovate and update its existing stores for a more "modern" look and feel on the selling floor.

E-commerce is also being enhanced this year after some recent testing on the company's www.steinmart.com site that started last fall.

 

 

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