Vera Bradley Swings to Loss, Could Close Stores

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Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) is reporting a fiscal first quarter net loss of $4 million, compared to net income of $2.4 million during the same period the previous year. Chief Executive Officer Robert Wallstrom says challenges in the retail environment continued into the first quarter and the company could close up to 15 underperforming stores during the fiscal year. 

Wallstrom says, despite the loss, sales trends in April improved over those in February and March. "Total revenues were in line with our expectations while our gross profit percentage was slightly below our guidance. Our first quarter net loss per share of $0.09 (excluding severance charges) was better than guidance, primarily due to expense management, the timing of certain expenses, and a lower-than-expected tax rate."

Wallstrom adds the company is continuing with its primary objective for the fiscal year, which is to increase its customer count. To do that, he says Vera Bradley must execute three key goals, including driving brand desirability through a robust marketing program and focused brand clarity, focusing on the company's core products and leveraging licensing opportunities to drive product desirability, and strengthening the company's distribution network.

The company says, in order to drive sales in its core businesses, it must also strengthen its digital presence and close underperforming full-line stores. "We believe executing these three key goals can position Vera Bradley for the future and improved profitability," said Wallstrom.

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