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Number of improvements in CHRS Spring assortments
31
Mar '10
Charming Shoppes, Inc a leading multi-brand apparel retailer specializing in women's plus-size apparel reported sales and operating results for the three and twelve month periods ended January 30, 2010.

Commenting on the results for the quarter, Jim Fogarty, President and Chief Executive Officer of Charming Shoppes, Inc. said, "Over the last year, we have had two primary objectives - first, to strengthen the capital base and liquidity profile of the Company - goal accomplished; at year end, debt, net of cash, was $33 million and liquidity was $328 million, all while buying back $85 million of our convertible notes. Second - to stabilize and begin to grow our business - on that we are a work in process. Although we continued to improve adjusted EBITDA - with an increase of $5 million for the quarter and $21 million for the year - our same store sales comp only improved marginally from (13)% in the third quarter to (12)% in the fourth quarter.

"Considering lead times to adjust apparel assortments, our results in the fourth quarter showed only modest improvement and reflected very similar assortment issues to those we referenced in the third quarter - a lack of focus on our customer and a failure to provide her with a strong, focused core tops and bottoms assortment.

"During the third quarter, we reassessed our direction for Lane Bryant's assortments, and during the fourth quarter, we reassessed our direction for Fashion Bug. We took to heart insights from our studies and we also shifted our Charming Shoppes culture from one of 'defense only' to a combination of 'defense and offense'. As a result of our work at Lane Bryant during the third quarter, we have made a number of improvements in our Spring assortments, including Lane Bryant's recent launches of core tops and bottoms programs, such as Supima(R) Cotton knit tops, casual woven shirts, capris (alternate length pants), and new assortments in swimwear and footwear. As a result of our work at Fashion Bug, we are addressing both our assortment and real estate strategy.

"Our first quarter 2010 to-date same store sales comp through eight weeks was approximately (4)%, which while still negative, reflects improvement across all of our brands from our fourth quarter comps and progress in our Spring assortments. Further, our internet business was up 35% in that same time period, benefiting from the August launch of our new web sites and the February launch of our universal shopping cart linking our four apparel web sites.

"We remain focused on our five key priorities: (1) Focus on the Customer; (2) Stabilize and Begin to Grow Profitable Revenue; (3) Increase EBITDA; (4) Increase Cash Flow, and; (5) Employee Empowerment with Accountability."

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Charming Shoppes Inc

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