Delia's records 1Q losses of $8.3M

With sales falling off after the sale of some of its businesses, and margins thinning out as well, Delia's Corp., a retailer of apparel and home fashions to teenage girls and young women, posted a modestly narrowed loss of $8.3 million, compared with a prior-year deficit of $8.7 million.

Sales dropped off by 26.1 percent, to $36.2 million from $49.1 million after the earlier sale of non-core businesses.

Skewing the earnings picture substantially, in the year-ago first quarter Delia's recorded a $3.9 million profit from its share of a joint venture, earned $667,000 in interest income and recorded an income-tax benefit of $2.4 million. Pulling out all the one-time items to create a more level playing field, the retailer actually slashed its operating losses in the period virtually in half, by 49.7 percent, to $7.9 million from $15.7 million last year. And approximately $2.6 million of the operating loss, roughly a third, was generated by businesses during the period or since the quarter's end.

Contributing to this year's quarterly loss, in addition to the lower level of sales, average gross margin thinned by 170 basis points, to 45.7 percent from 47.4 percent a year ago. But more than offsetting the margin erosion, Delia's hacked away at costs, reducing its expense ratio — costs as a percentage of sales — to 67.5 percent from 79.5 percent a year ago in the wake of the asset sales. Measured in absolute dollars, costs were cut by 37.3 percent, to $334.5 million from $349.0 million, a cash savings of $14.5 million.

Stephen Kahn, ceo, said, "In the first quarter, we posted positive comparable store sales in the mid-single-digits despite a weak retail environment. On the Direct side [catalog and website], we were pleased by the continued shift in sales to our Internet channel; however, business was affected by some merchandising miscues. We moved quickly to address these issues, and believe we are now well positioned for the key Back-to-School season."

Delia's Corp.

Qtr. 4/29 (x000) 2001 2000 % CHG
a-First-quarter results include a $384,000 restructuring charge; $2,000 in interest expense, compared with interest income of $667,000 last year. Prior-year earnings included $3.9 million in income from the company's minority interest in a joint venture; and an I come-tax benefit of $2.4 million.
Sales $36,231 $49,057 -26.1
Oper. income (EBIT) (7,913) (15,738)
Net income (8,299)a (8,746)a
Per share (diluted) (0.23) (0.35)
Average gross margin 45.7% 47.4%
SG&A expenses 67.5% 79.5%

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