Comparable store sales for the second fiscal quarter, as compared to the same period last year, are anticipated to increase 5% to 5.5%. The increase in comparable store sales reflects an improved sell-through rate of merchandise and increased traffic resulting in a higher number of transactions per store, and a slight increase in average units sold offset somewhat by a modest decrease in average total sales per transaction.
Sales for the quarter are expected to be $102 million to $103 million, as compared to sales of $105.6 million for the comparable period last year, despite operating on average 113, or 14%, fewer stores during the quarter as compared to the same period last year.
Total gross margin for the second fiscal quarter is expected to be between 26.2% and 26.4%, compared to last year's rate of 32.3% for the comparable period and 23.1% in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. The sequential improvement is the result of both lower occupancy expense as well as positive leverage related to the higher sales.
Average in-store inventory per store is expected to be up approximately mid-single digits at the end of the second fiscal quarter, as compared to the same period last year. At the end of the first fiscal quarter, average in-store inventory per store was up 22% year-over-year.
The Company expects cash and cash equivalents to be in the range of $39 million to $40 million at the end of the second fiscal quarter, as compared to $33.7 million at the end of this year's first fiscal quarter.
Joel Waller, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "While we remain in the early stages of our turnaround plan, our initiatives are gaining traction. Our new merchandising and marketing strategies are beginning to show progress.
"Meanwhile, strategic initiatives underway to reinvigorate sales through in-store merchandise presentation and optimization of our selling staff are also yielding improved performance. We believe that the implementation of these strategies led to the significant sequential improvement in comparable store sales and gross margin results.
"We believe that as we continue to execute our turnaround strategy and strengthen our market position, Christopher & Banks will be positioned to deliver improved sales and earnings results."
Christopher & Banks Corporation is a Minneapolis-based specialty retailer of women's clothing. As of July 25, 2012, the Company operates 653 stores in 44 states consisting of 386 Christopher & Banks stores, 177 stores in their women's plus size clothing division CJ Banks, 65 dual stores and 25 outlet stores.
Christopher & Banks Corporation
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