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 Profits slacken at bigger Belk      

Charlotte, N.C. – As Southern regional department store chain Belk prepares September grand openings for 25 Parisian stores acquired last year, management is confident that the integration is going well – and it is certainly reflected in second-quarter sales, which were up 20.2% to $879.6 million compared to last year. Comps rose 2.2%.

 Profits tightened, however, as the 300-store company reported net income of $7.5 million, down 71.5% from $26.3 million one year ago, which the retailer allayed in large part to increased markdowns.

 Tim Belk, chairman and ceo of Belk, explained, “We’re pleased that we were able to increase sales and market share in a challenging environment for customer spending. Increased markdowns to keep inventories in line, combined with the Parisian transition, had a negative impact on margins and net income.”

 The 25 stores set for grand openings as Belk locations are in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. The company will also open six new stores on Oct. 17.

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