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Stein Mart juices 4Q marketing

JACKSONVILLE , Fla. -- Stein Mart Inc. is amplifying its marketing efforts for this holiday season, adding a free-standing insert on Thanksgiving Day and broadening its distribution for a December circular, the retailer said during its third quarter earnings call today.

“Promotionally, we will be pretty much in the same cadence as last year but we will be adding some additional marketing enhancements,” said Michael Fisher, president and CEO, during the company’s quarter call this morning. “We will be focusing on great prices on holiday dressing, entertainment and gift-giving opportunities.”

Despite losing almost $6 million in sales to a pair of hurricanes that shut down many of its stores, Stein Mart parlayed strict inventory controls and stronger margins into a $1.4 million third quarter profit, recovering from a year-before loss of $2 million.

Sales increased 1.8 percent to $336.5 million in spite of hurricane disruption which Stein Mart estimated cost it about $5.7 million in sales. Comps edged up 0.4 percent.

Providing a lift to the bottom line, average gross margin widened 1.6 percentage points, to 24.7 percent from 23.1 percent helped by improved mark-up and fewer markdowns, the company said. Merchandise stockpiles were cut 2.9 percent from year-ago levels, to $313.3 million from $322.7 million, yielding a savings of $9.3 million.

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