Duckwall-ALCO Reports First-Quarter Results

Midwest regional discount department store chain Duckwall-ALCO – which operates under two nameplates, Duckwall and ALCO — made strides during its first quarter as the company pursued its five-prong “turnaround and strategic plan” that included “completely revamping” its merchandising and marketing programs as well as cutting expenses and updating its technology.

“We are very pleased with these strong results, especially in light of the weak economy. All five elements of our turnaround program and strategic plan, that began in the fall of 2008, are on or ahead of schedule and continue to progress,” said Larry Zigerelli, president and ceo. “I am optimistic that we will continue to successfully transform the company for sustainable long term growth.”

In the period, which ended May 3, net sales from continuing operations -- excluding the company’s two fuel centers -- increased 11.0% to $114.1 million and same-store sales increased 6.2%.

Net loss for the first quarter was $50,000, or 1 cent per basic share, compared to a net loss of $5.9 million, or $1.54 per basic share, for the first quarter of the prior fiscal year.

The company said its earnings were impacted by a net-after-tax charge of about $800,000 for its “Store Transformation Project,” which is scheduled to be completed this month.

Quarterly adjusted EBITDA dollars increased $5.8 million. Adjusted gross margin dollars grew $5.5 million, or 16.5%, and 210 basis points, as a percentage of sales. “These results were driven by the sales increase, lower markdowns, freight costs and continued shrink improvement,” the company said.

Duckwall-Alco, which this year turns 108 years old, operates 264 stores – 205 ALCO and 59 Duckwall -- in 23 states, most of them in the Midwest but also including Florida and Georgia.

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