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Stein Mart to shutter 16 stores

Jacksonville, FL — Stein Mart said it will close 16 underperforming stores this year, about 6 percent of its current store base of 270 units. As a group, the company said, the 16 stores generated operating losses of $5.2 million last year, and averaged 40 percent less in sales per square foot than the chain as a whole.

Adding up store closing and severance costs, the chain said it will record a pre-tax charge of $19 million, or about $0.28 per share, during the year. The closings will also require about $10 million, or $0.15 per share, in additional markdowns to liquidate inventory in the affected stores.

"This is part of our initiative to improve not only individual store productivity, but the overall quality of the stores in our chain," said Michael Fisher, president and ceo. The chain said location and 'psychographic' issues — "fashion awareness in the marketplace" — were factors contributing to the stores' poor performance. Three of the closings are under way or have been completed: in Richardson, TX, a Dallas suburb; Fayetteville, AR; and Greenfield, WI, a Milwaukee suburb. The other 13 units have not been identified.

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