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Consuming Beerman costing Bon-Ton; Bergren takes medical leave

YORK, Pa. — Grafting onto its own operations the recently acquired Elder-Beerman stores, The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., an East Coast regional department store chain, recorded a mounting $5.6 million loss, up from $2.9 million.

Adding Elder-Beerman sales to its own, The Bon-Ton almost doubled in size, driving sales up 87.9 percent, to $265.1 million from $141.1 million a year ago. Same-store sales for Bon-Ton stores declined 2 percent, and Elder-Beerman comps were down 2.9 percent. Combined comps were off 2.4 percent.

As the retailer picked up the tab for the buyout and drove its debt level higher, interest expense more than doubled, rising 157.6 percent, to $3.2 million from $1.2 million the year before.

In other Bon-Ton news, Bryon "Bud" Bergren, vice chairman of The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc, is taking a medical leave for a health condition that will require surgery.

Tim Grumbacher, The Bon-Ton CEO and chairman of the board, stated, "While Bud is a key member of our management team, a very strong team remains in place, and the company will continue its aggressive plans regarding the integration of the Elder-Beerman and Bon-Ton operations. We are looking forward to Bud's complete recovery and his return mid-summer."

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