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Comps slip at Wet Seal

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. — The Wet Seal reported that net sales for the fourth quarter were $161.7 million compared with net sales of $163.2 million for the 13-week fourth quarter in fiscal 2011.

Consolidated comparable-store sales declined 8.3%, including a comparable-store sales decline of 9.1% at Wet Seal and 3.1% at Arden B. 

Net loss was $85.8 million, or 97 cents per diluted share, as compared with net income of $1.1 million, or 1 cent per diluted share, in the prior year quarter. 

John Goodman, CEO of The Wet Seal Inc., stated, “Fiscal 2012 was a challenging year for the Company, marked by changes in leadership, strategic direction and brand positioning, which had a significant impact on our financial performance. During the past two months, our team has moved quickly to begin stabilizing the business, get back to Wet Seal’s fast fashion roots and prepare for growth. Additionally, we have taken meaningful action to reduce expenses, control inventories and leverage the core strengths of our team members.

“Our merchandising and field organizations are excited about our renewed focus on the core customer and we are effecting change in the assortments as quickly as possible. At the same time, we’re improving the visual presentation in the stores and developing marketing programs and partnerships designed to influence our Wet Seal customers.

“We have also implemented strategic merchandising changes at Arden B, which are enabling us to gain traction in key product categories and drive improvement in overall business trends.”

Net sales for the 53-week period were $580.4 million compared with net sales of $620.1 million in the 52-week period of fiscal 2011.

Consolidated comparable-store sales declined 10.1%, including a comparable-store sales decline of 10.1% at Wet Seal and 9.9% at Arden B.

Net loss was $113.2 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $15.1 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, in fiscal 2011. 

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, the company opened four and closed eight Wet Seal stores and closed 19 Arden B stores. As of Feb. 2, the vompany operated 530 stores in 47 states and Puerto Rico, including 468 Wet Seal stores and 62 Arden B stores.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the company expects net loss per diluted share to be in the range of 3 cents to 6 cents. 

The company expects total net sales between $135 million and $139 million for the first quarter of 2013 versus $147.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

The company expects first quarter comparable-store sales decline in the mid single-digits, versus a 7.7% decrease in the prior year quarter.

In fiscal 2013, the company expects to open 19 new Wet Seal stores, primarily in outlet centers, and close approximately 14-18 locations upon lease expiration. The company also expects to close approximately nine Arden B locations upon lease expiration.