Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. earned $600,000 in its important Christmas quarter, half what it made in the same period a year ago but slightly more than what some financial analysts expected.
Chairman Timothy F. Finley blamed the profit decline on store-opening costs and promotional discounts.
But the good news, he said, was that the promotions worked. As previously reported, sales in Bank's established stores jumped by 8.2 percent for the three months that ended Jan. 28 after a disappointing decline in the previous quarter.
The fourth-quarter sales show that "we were able to drive the customer into our stores," Mr. Finley said. "We feel in today's competitive retail environment the promotions were necessary to drive the business."
The first half of this fiscal year will see continued promotions and pressure on profits, Mr. Finley said.
Bank's overall sales for the quarter increased 25.6 percent to $51.5 million, reflecting the opening of 11 stores and 10 catalog showrooms. The company has 83 stores. The Hampstead-based apparel maker and retailer said it will open five outlet stores this fiscal year and close one full-line store.
Bank previously said that it would open fewer stores than planned and focus on building sales through its catalogs.
The suit and sports coat company also is trying to adjust its merchandise mix to accommodate an increasingly casual U.S. workplace.
Later this year Bank expects to introduce a broad line of casual "careerwear."
The costs to identify and promote the new clothes will also temporarily hurt Bank's results, the company said. Bank earned 9 cents per share in its latest quarter. Several financial analysts had expected 8 cents.
For its fiscal year, Bank earned $1.3 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with profit of $2.7 million, or 56 cents per share, in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 29, 1994. The fiscal 1994 results do not include several one-time charges and benefits.
Bank had $176.1 million in sales for its most recent fiscal year, a 17.7 percent increase.
Bank's earnings were announced after stock markets closed yesterday. Bank stock fell by 25 cents per share yesterday to $3.