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First Quarter Challenging For Apparel Groups

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

First Quarter Challenging For Apparel GroupsFirst-quarter sales results indicate that apparel groups have challenges to face in the coming months. Downturn in retail and consumer demand for apparel has left many companies wondering what the next few quarters will bring.Kellwood Co., St. Louis, reported a 19.6-percent decrease to $570.7 million in sales for the quarter, compared with $709.4 million in 2001. Net earnings for the company were $8.6 million, down from $25.1 million last year.First-quarter mens sportswear increased 9 percent over year-ago levels. Womens sportswear was 25 percent lower, while sales of other soft goods were down 17 percent.Hal J. Upbin, chairman, president and CEO, said, While sell-through rates of our products at retail have been encouraging this Spring, the improvement in turnover and margins for the retailers has not yet translated to a fundamental change in our customers ordering mentality for Fall. Orders are being booked 45 to 60 days later than normal.New York City-based J. Crew Group Inc. also reported a slight downturn in revenues for the quarter, with $167.1 million, down from $167.8 million. Comparable store sales decreased 13 percent.Our first quarter results primarily reflect the continuing challenges we are facing on the merchandising front. Comp store sales came in as we anticipated, while EBItdA before severance charges exceeded our expectations, reflecting higher merchandise margins versus last year, said Scott Rosen, CFO.The company reported a loss of $453,000 before interest, taxes, depreciation and amoritization (EBItdA), compared to income of $150,000 last year. July 2002




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