CEO: Vera Bradley Primed to Return to Growth

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FORT WAYNE -

As Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) executives continue to work on a turnaround, Chief Executive Officer Rob Wallstrom says he is "energized about the future." He also believes the company will begin generating "positive comparable growth" by year's end. Despite a Wednesday earnings report that showed a slight dip in fiscal fourth quarter net income and a one-quarter decrease between fiscal 2015 and 2014, Vera Bradley stock climbed more than eight percent. The handbag and accessory maker has completed the second year of a long-term strategic plan to return to what Wallstrom calls solid growth.

With Wednesday's bump, the company's stock prices have climbed around $7 per share since its third quarter earnings report was released in early December.

Wallstrom says the company is planning several new high-profile locations in the coming year, including its first store in Manhattan. Additionally, Wallstrom said Vera Bradley expects to add about 100 department store locations this year.

During a call with investors, Wallstrom said "our top priority continues to be to make Vera Bradley more relevant in order to attract even more new customers to the brand. We are continuing to execute our long-term strategic plan laid out in March 2014, focusing on the key planks of product, distribution and marketing."  He said the prime objectives for the current fiscal year are brand transformation, drive core growth and exploring additional licensing and international growth opportunities.

Mid-last year, Vera Bradley closed its manufacturing facility in New Haven, a move that affected 250 workers. At the time the decision was announced, Wallstrom said it cost about 90 percent more to manufacture its products in the U.S. than overseas.

Vera Bradley Chief Executive Officer Rob Wallstrom says the company is planning several new high-profile locations in the coming year, including its first store in Manhattan.
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