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Karen Neuburger lifts home categories at Bon-Ton  

York, Pa. – After a soft one-year stretch, The Bon-Ton Stores is “thrilled” to see its home business “performing better than spring and on plan,” thanks largely to new successes in the fall assortment, especially the retailer’s exclusive Karen Neuburger home program. 

 
During the company’s second-quarter earnings call today Anthony Buccina, vice chairman, president-merchandising, said of bright spots in home that “Karen Neuberger bedding and towels are exceeding plan, and we actually had to reposition ourselves for the fourth quarter.

“Karen Neuberger, which only had a taste in the Bon-Ton stores the prior year, has performed better than our plan and we’ve extended it into more textile categories in home – towels, gifts, and candles. So we’re quite pleased with what is happening with our own proprietary brand there.”

Also “thrilling,” Buccina said, has been the addition this year in Bon-Ton stores of the “dorm shop” in home, which rolled out in June. “Our back-to-school business is strong, companywide,” he said.


Added Byron Bergren, president and ceo: “The home business had been difficult throughout the past year, and we’ve actually seen that stabilize both on the Carson and the Bon-Ton sides, and we’re actually doing a little better than our plan right now going into the third quarter. Bon-Ton is actually penetrating where we need it to be.”


Bon-Ton reported a second-quarter net loss of $15.0 million, compared to a net loss of $19.8 million one year ago. Sales fell 5.1% to $708.6 million, from $746.8 million last year. Bon-Ton and Carson’s combined comp stores sales decreased 5.0%.


The 278-unit department store retailer considers 2007 to be a “transitional year” as it continues to integrate the two big divisions.

 

“We expect long-term benefits,” said Buccina of the Carson’s and related acquisitions that have grown the company to 2006 sales of $3.36 billion. “Size does matter in retail.”

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