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Gottschalks still slumping        

Fresno, Calif. – Housewares was among the best performing categories for 62-unit Western department store chain Gottschalks during its first quarter – but home textiles was definitely not part of the action – the retailer said on its earnings call last evening.

“Like most of the industry, we continued to experience our most difficult sales trends in textiles and furniture,” said James Famalette, president and ceo. “However, we are encouraged by significant progress in our housewares area and believe we are well-positioned to see continued success in that merchandise category as economic conditions improve.”

Net loss for the first quarter was $5.1 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, compared to the net loss of $4.7 million or 34 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

Sales fell 11.8% to $125.1 million from $141.8 million for the first fiscal quarter last year. Comps dropped 10.3%.

With parts of home performing stronger than others, Gottschalks is looking to make “changes in our home store assortment. One of our key strengths has always been our branded merchandise mix,” Famalette said.

Overall, Gottschalks is “taking advantage of more opportunistic purchases while at the same time ensuring that our inventory levels are appropriate for the current environment,” he added.

No updates were reported on the future of Gottschalks, which is exploring strategic alternatives.

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