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Profits at largest privately owned retailer Belk up 43.5%
31
Mar '12
Belk Inc. announced operating results for the fiscal year ended January 28, 2012.

Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive officer of Belk, Inc., said, “Our financial performance last year was one of the strongest ever for Belk. The investments we are making in the company helped produce solid comparable store sales growth and improved profitability. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our outstanding team of associates, we have achieved eight consecutive quarters of comparable store sales increases, and we are encouraged about the year ahead.”

Net Sales
Net sales for the 52-week period increased 5.3 percent to $3.7 billion compared to the prior-year period. On a comparable store basis, sales increased 5.5 percent. The increase was due to execution of key strategic initiatives that included investments in merchandising, rebranding, eCommerce, store remodels and service improvements. Merchandise categories with the highest growth rate for the year included ladies shoes, children's and home.

Net Income
Net income increased 43.5 percent to $183.1 million for the year compared to $127.6 million for the prior-year period. The increase was primarily a result of higher sales and improved margin, expense leverage, and the release of a deferred tax valuation allowance. Net income excluding non-comparable items increased 27 percent to $162.3 million for the year compared to $127.4 million for the prior year. A detailed reconciliation of net income to net income excluding non-comparable items is provided at the end of this release.

Investments in Strategic Initiatives
Belk has planned investments totaling approximately $600 million over a five-year period that began in the last fiscal year in key strategic initiatives including store remodels and service improvements; eCommerce; information technology; merchandise planning and processes; and improved sourcing practices.

Store Expansions and Remodelings
During fiscal year 2012, Belk relocated its Corinth, Miss. store to an expanded and renovated building in the same center; expanded and remodeled stores in Statesboro, Ga.

Monroe, N.C.; and remodeled stores in Cary, N.C., Tupelo, Miss., Charlotte, N.C. (SouthPark Mall), New Bern, N.C., Dublin, Ga., Vicksburg, Miss., Richlands, Va., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Mall). Additionally, the company completed shoe department expansion and remodeling projects in 32 stores along with fashion jewelry department remodeling projects in 56 stores. The installation of new Belk logo signs in all stores was also completed during the year.

Belk to open new eCommerce Fulfillment Center
Belk recently announced that it would begin operating a new 515,000-square-foot eCommerce fulfillment center in Jonesville, S.C. in June in a facility formerly occupied by Disney. The company is making a $4.5 million capital investment in the center, which is expected to generate 124 new jobs over the next five years and will support the continued growth of the company's eCommerce business.

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