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Coldwater Creek trims loss in quarter

Women’s apparel and accessories retailer Coldwater Creek narrowed its loss for the second consecutive quarter, compared to the year-earlier period, as the company continued to cut expenses and retool its inventory.

Coldwater on May 30 reported a first quarter net loss of $23.8 million, or 20 cents per share, down 20.6 percent from $30 million or 32 cents per share a year earlier. The company had about 30 percent more shares outstanding in the recent quarter after selling stock last fall.

Coldwater employs 2,600 people full time and 4,300 part-time around the country.

Consolidated net sales totaled $169.9 million in the April 28 quarter, down 5.5 percent.

Analysts on average expected the Sandpoint-based retailer to report a net loss of 20 cents per share on $173.33 million in revenue, Yahoo Finance reported.

The results mark an improvement from the fiscal first quarter of 2011, when Coldwater reported a $30 million net loss, compared to a small profit a year earlier, and a 35 percent drop in sales from a year earlier.

Net sales from the retail segment including stores and spas totaled $131.2 million in the first quarter of 2012, down 2.88 percent from $135.1 million a year earlier. Coldwater had 13 more stores a year ago.

Sales at stores open at least a year dropped 0.6 percent compared to steeper declines in the three earlier quarters. Sales by Internet, phone and mail dropped 13 percent from a year earlier

CEO Dennis Pence, in a conference call with analysts, said Coldwater is working to increase catalog circulation and size in the second half of the fiscal year, a move expected to reduce year-over-year sales declines in that segment. The company also is working to convert into sales more emails that customers open by smart phone, he said.

He said the company sees improvement in all performance measures except customer traffic.

Chief Operating Officer Jim Bell said traffic was down about 9 percent.

Pence said he expects traffic to increase over time due to Coldwater’s recent merchandise improvements, and better efforts at using Internet and traditional marketing together.

Coldwater reported that it improved its consolidated gross profit and reduced selling, general and administrative expenses.

The company closed four premium retail stores in the fiscal first quarter, ending the period with 359. Coldwater closed 15 in fiscal 2011 and plans to close 15 in fiscal 2012 as part of a plan to close 35 to 45 premium stores through fiscal 2013.

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