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Business at Bon-Ton a little brighter

New York – Business at The Bon-Ton Stores is improving compared to earlier this year, and the company is now looking for fiscal results on the high end of its guidance, although it still expects to lose money.

The regional department store’s strategy for fall “is to continue to operate to a conservative plan,” president and ceo Bud Bergren said this morning during a presentation to the Wells Fargo 2009 Consumer Conference here.

Soft home is among departments that is doing better this fall as the company shifts its merchandising focus away from better in favor of moderate.

Costs and inventories are down. Bon-Ton finished September with 8.7% less comp inventory and 22% less clearance inventory, said Bergren. The cost of goods has fallen 5% to 10% this year, and Bergren expects that trend to hold going into next year.

With trends in October and for the third quarter ending Oct. 31 are looking better, the company today expects fiscal year results will be on the high end of its previous guidance: EBITDA (earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization) of between $150 million and $170 million and for loss per share from $3.70 to $2.50.



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