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Filene's Stars in Retail Ventures Results

Tri-platform off-price retailer Retail Ventures (RVI) reported a 4.5% rise in first quarter sales to $754.1 million, largely on store-count increase, while comp store sales fell 5.2% — but one division posted positive comps: Filene's Basement.

With 34 better off-price stores, Filene's Basement is the prestige segment of the business, and the company continues renovations at the historic, original Boston store. Haywood Wilansky, RVI president and ceo, said the urban stores outperform suburban sites — a new unit in downtown Baltimore "has opened up very powerfully, giving us a lot of encouragement" about the real estate strategy for the division, he said.

Filene's Basement comps were up 1.6% and the company said the boost would be 2.6% if the under-renovation flagship were excluded from results.

Comps at DSW, the 230-unit off-price shoe superstore, were down 3.6%, but the chain is providing ample growth at a 30-stores-per-year clip. Value City Department Stores, the 113-door discount chain, saw comps fall 8.7%; this low-end division is considered to be up for sale.

Wilansky and cfo Jim McGrady deflected a range of analyst questions about the ultimate disposal of Value City, for which the company has been engaged in strategic evaluation since December 2006. The discount chain accounted for 38.2% of company sales in the first quarter, down from 44.4% for all of fiscal 2006. Sales were down in all merchandise categories, the company said.

RVI earnings for the quarter amounted to $2.7 million, due in large part to non-cash accounting income of $12.5 million, McGrady said.

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