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Jo-Ann profits up two-thirds

HUDSON, Ohio — Helped by stronger same-store sales, rising margins and lower interest costs; fabric and crafts specialty retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc. boosted first-quarter profits almost two-thirds, up 63.4 percent, to $6.7 million from $4.1 million last year.

Sales increased 8 percent, to $404.9 million from $374.8 million, helped by stronger comps and new store openings. The crucial gauge of same-store sales climbed 6.6 percent, improving on a smaller year-ago gain of 2.6 percent.

For a third straight fiscal quarter, the specialty retailer strengthened its margins, this time 90 basis points, or nine-tenths of a percentage point, to 49.1 percent from 48.2 percent a year ago. Margin growth "resulted from a less promotional pricing strategy," the company said.

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