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Top line growth remains strong in Q2 says West 49 CEO

Sep '05
Apparel retailer West 49 Inc reported results for its second quarter; the 13-week period ended July 30, 2005.

Net sales increased $10.4 million, or 64 percent, to $26.6 million in the 13 weeks ended July 30, 2005 compared to the second quarter last year, when West 49 was a private company. Comparable store sales increased 11.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, while for the Company's West 49 stores, comparable sales increased 13.9 percent.

The company generated a net loss of $1.6 million or $.03 per share in the second quarter for fiscal 2006.

Sam Baio, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), stated that the top line growth remains very strong but their profitability was below plan for a number of reasons. Poor weather in April and May resulted in a change in markdown strategy to avoid inventory backup in the back-to-school season.

The Vancouver dock strike increased freight costs as they had to find other ways to deliver merchandise. These events resulted in a gross margin swing from 28.4 percent of net sales in the prior year to 19.2 percent this year. As a result of this strong quarter's growth they are improving their internal procedures to increase their profitability.

Historically, the first and second quarters are West 49's weakest periods, while the thirdand fourth quarters are the strongest.

At July 30, 2005 West 49 operated 75 stores, including 62 West 49 stores, 10 Off the Wall stores and three Billabong stores. That compares with 54 stores; including 53 West 49 stores and one Billabong stores on July 31, 2004. The Company opened three West 49 stores in its second quarter.

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