Mothers Work, Inc. (NASDAQ: MWRK) , the world's leading maternity apparel retailer, today announced that net sales for the month of September 2002 increased 16.5% to $38.5 million from $33.0 million reported for the month of September 2001. Comparable store sales for September 2002 increased 2.6% (based on 746 locations) versus a comparable store sales decrease of 9.3% (based on 670 locations) for the September 2001 period. During September 2002, the Company opened 12 locations and closed 5 locations, ending the month with 909 locations compared to 771 at September 2001.
Net sales increased 20.1% to $111.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 ended September 30, 2002, from $92.6 million for the same period of the preceding year. Comparable store sales increased 6.0% during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 (based on 733 locations) versus a comparable store sales decrease of 6.0% during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001 (based on 661 locations). For the quarter ended September 30, 2002, the Company opened 23 new locations and closed 12 locations, including 5 iMaternity stores closed during the months of July and August in connection with the consolidation of the acquired store chain.
Rebecca Matthias, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mothers Work, noted, "We are pleased with our performance for the month of September, particularly given the difficult retail environment and the disadvantage of having four Saturdays in September 2002 compared to five Saturdays in September 2001. Our comparable store sales increase of 2.6% for the month was depressed by approximately 4% by having one less Saturday in this September compared to last year. On a combined basis for August and September, in which there were nine Saturdays both this year and last year, we delivered a comparable store sales increase of 5.6%. We continue to realize meaningful gross margin increases over last year, primarily due to our success at reducing product costs through our aggressive sourcing initiatives. In addition, our inventory management initiatives have enabled us to maintain an overall inventory level only slightly higher than last September, while delivering a 20% sales increase for the fourth quarter and providing inventory for our 138 net locations added since September 2001. Finally, we are pleased to report that, since June, we have routed all of our ocean shipments to East Coast ports to reduce any potential impact on our product deliveries of the labor disruptions at West Coast ports."
Mothers Work is the world's largest designer and retailer of maternity apparel, using its custom TrendTrack(TM) merchandise analysis and planning system as well as its quick response replenishment process to "give the customer what she wants, when she wants it." Mothers Work operates 909 maternity locations, including 763 stores and 146 leased departments, predominantly under the tradenames Motherhood Maternity(R), A Pea in the Pod(R), and Mimi Maternity(R) and sells on the web through its maternitymall.com and brand-specific websites.
The Company cautions that any forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) contained in this press release or made from time to time by management of the Company, including expected results of operations, involve risks and uncertainties, and are subject to change based on various important factors. The following factors, among others, in some cases have affected and in the future could affect the Company's financial performance and actual results and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any such forward-looking statements: changes in consumer spending patterns, raw material price increases, consumer preferences and overall economic conditions, the impact of competition and pricing, availability of suitable store locations, continued availability of capital and financing, ability to hire and develop senior management and sales associates, ability to develop and source merchandise, ability to receive production from foreign sources on a timely basis, and other factors set forth in the Company's periodic filings and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or in materials incorporated therein by reference.
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