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Dillard's Loss Grows as Outlays Trimmed

Department store operator Dillard's recorded a deeper loss for the second quarter, noting its expense reduction efforts had fallen short.

Dillard's ceo William Dillard II, said, "We continued to manage our business conservatively during the second quarter in the prevailing economic uncertainty. However, our accomplishments with expense reduction were not sufficient to offset large disappointments in sales and gross margin."

Net loss for the quarter ended Aug. 2 was $38.3 million or 51 cents per share, compared to the loss of $25.2 million or 31 cents per share for the same period last year. This year's quarter included a pretax gain of $17.9 million from selling a corporate jet, as well as pretax charges of $9.8 million on asset impairment and store closing costs.

Quarterly sales of $1.61 billion were down 3%; comps fell 4%.

The 318-store chain closed four units in the quarter, one in August, and plans another nine clsoings in the near term. Dillard's has slashed capital expenditures — with a planned $204 million for the year, compared to $396 million in 2007 — and said it anticipates additional store closings this year.

Other reductions in the quarter included cutting inventory by 5% and slicing $17.2 million out of advertising and SG&A areas.

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