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Stein Mart 3Q sales driven by strong home results

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, December 2, 2002

Jacksonville, FL — Sales of linens and gifts both saw double-digit increases at Stein Mart during the third quarter, as the home area represented the "strongest and most consistent business," Gwen Manto, executive vp, merchandising, said during the company's third quarter conference call.

"The emphasis on fashion and coordination across both these zones drove the increases," she said.

Decorative gifts, ceramics and fashion bedding were the quarter's best performers, she said, and luxury looks and high price points continue to be strengths. "As interest and attention on the home continues, our customers will continue to focus on decor and interior enhancements."

Stein Mart also discussed its smaller-format Collections store in Rolling Hills, CA, which opened less than a month ago. "We are pleased with its acceptance," said Mike Fisher, president and coo. Two to three more of the stores will open in 2003. The company will also return to a more "normal" store-opening schedule next year, with 25 units planned.

For this holiday season, Stein Mart, like other retailers, has been more conservative in its purchasing and is managing its inventories closely. Manto added that its inventory is significantly more current than it was a year ago.

The company will focus its marketing plan on its "highly valued proposition and merchandise uniqueness this fall," said Fisher. November was progressing modestly, he said, as expected. And though the fourth-quarter advertising budget is similar to last year's, Stein Mart plans to do more "color exposure," she said, and fewer newspaper ads. The retailer will also mail five books this year, compared to the three books it sent out last year.

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