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The comparable sales decline was driven by lower average dollar sale, partially offset by an increase in transaction count. In the third quarter, comparable sales at Soma were up positive double-digits for the second consecutive quarter while Chico's and White House Black Market (WHBM) posted sequential quarter-over-quarter improvement.
For the thirty-nine weeks ending November 2, 2019, the company reported a net loss of $8.4 million, or $0.07 loss per diluted share, compared to net income of $52.3 million, or $0.41 earnings per diluted share, for the thirty-nine weeks ending November 3, 2018.
"Our third quarter results demonstrate that we are gaining traction on our strategic priorities. Comparable sales improved sequentially by 10.4 percentage points at White House Black Market and by 2 points at Chico's, our largest brand. In addition, Soma's comparable sales increased double-digits for the second consecutive quarter. Each of these achievements indicate that the actions being taken are positively impacting results, said Bonnie Brooks, CEO and president of Chico’s FAS.
"Our customers are also responding to our brands' better product, stronger marketing and changes to store presentation. I firmly believe the company's turnaround is on the right track, and we have updated our full-year financial outlook to reflect the positive momentum of our business."
In the third quarter, the company strengthened its product teams and made investments in growth areas, such as digital and customer experience. The company also repositioned some departments, consolidated others, and reduced areas where the company can operate more efficiently with fewer resources.
The company completed the implementation of its Buy On-Line, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) capability across all of its brands.
The company is initiating outlook for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 and is updating its previously provided full-year fiscal 2019 outlook to reflect improvements in the business.
For the fiscal 2019 fourth quarter compared to the fiscal 2018 fourth quarter, the company anticipates a low single-digit decline in total net sales and consolidated comparable sales. Gross margin as a percent of net sales is expected to be down approximately 100 to 150 basis points.
For full year fiscal 2019 compared to full year fiscal 2018, the company anticipates a mid single-digit decline in total net sales and consolidated comparable sales. Gross margin as a percent of net sales is expected to be down 150 to 200 basis points consistent with previous guidance.
Chico’s FAS, through its brands – Chico's, WHBM, Soma and TellTale, is a leading omni-channel specialty retailer of women's private branded, sophisticated, casual-to-dressy clothing, intimates and complementary accessories.
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