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Belk posts a profit

Charlotte, N.C. — Family-owned Belk department stores churned out a profit of $400,000 during the third quarter, reversing a net loss of $23.5 million last year.

Excluding non-comparable items – which Belk defines as “items that may not be indiciative of or are unrelated to core operating results” – the retailer produced net income of $1.3 million compared to a net loss of $24.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

The company credited improved gross margin and lower inventories and expenses for swinging the balance to a profit.

Sales fell 1.8% to $728.0 million, while comps declined 2.1%.

“We believe that the operating environment has stabilized, and merchandise margins have improved,” said Tim Belk, chairman and ceo.

For the year-to-date period, net income grew to $10.4 million compared to a net loss of $10.2 million last year. Excluding non-comparable items, net income was $11.8 million compared to a net loss of $11.9 million.

Sales fell 5.9% to $2.25, while comps declined 6.5%.

During the quarter, Belk completed a major expansion and renovation of its Belk store at the Mall at Shelter Cove in Hilton Head, S.C.