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Belk Sales Fall, Losses Mount

Regional department store operator Belk Inc. reported a dramatically deeper net loss for the third quarter, as sales fell more steeply.

The privately-held company reported a Q3 (ended Nov. 1) net loss of $23.5 million, compared to the year-ago net loss of $6.9 million. "Net loss excluding non-comparable items for the third quarter was $24.2 million compared to a net loss of $6.5 million for the same prior-year period," Belk announced.

Year-to-date, Belk registered a net loss of $10.2 million, vs. net income of $10.1 million in the prior-year period. Excluding non-comparable items, the loss was $11.9 million, vs. earnings of $15.7 million one year ago.

Sales in the quarter fell 8.3% to $741.4 million, while comps decreased 9.8%. Year-to-date sales of $2.39 billion were down 7.9%; comps fell 7.5%.

"We have maintained a strong balance sheet and positive cash flow, which places us in a good position to weather the downturn," asserted Tim Belk, chairman and ceo of the 308-store retailer. "We are also continuing to invest in our business with the opening of three new stores, the relaunch of our expanded website and the development of new brands."