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New York & Company to Convert 50 Stores to Outlets in Q1

Department stores aren’t the only ones jumping on the off-price bandwagon.

New York & Company announced Friday that it plans to convert 50 stores to outlets in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, ending the three-month period with a total of 132 locations.

The news followed the release of the specialty retailer’s fourth-quarter results. Comparable store sales increased 1.9% in the 13 weeks ended Jan. 30, while total net sales rose 1.5% from $267.4 million to $271.27 million.

The improved performance helped the retailer post a profit of $100,000 in the fourth quarter, compared to last year’s net loss of $6.7 million.

“We finished the year strongly capping off another successful year of growth and continued progress toward our long-term goals,” CEO Gregory Scott said in a statement. “The fourth quarter was highlighted by increased sales, positive comparable sales, expansion in gross margin and a reduction in expenses.”

He added, “Our performance continues to demonstrate that our strategies are focused on making New York & Company a leading apparel destination by creating differentiated assortments with exclusive celebrity collections and sub-brands including the Eva Mendes Collection and Jennifer Hudson for Soho Jeans collection, by connecting more closely with our customers with high impact marketing and loyalty programs, by evolving our omnichannel capabilities so we are able to serve our customers wherever and whenever they choose to shop and by continuing to achieve our efficiency goals as we execute our Project Excellence cost reduction program.”

New York & Company closed 18 stores during the fourth quarter, ending the fiscal year with 490 stores, including 82 outlets, and 2.5 million square feet in operation.

Throughout the remainder of fiscal 2016, the retailer expects to open two full-price stores and one outlet, remodel five locations and close between eight and 12 stores to end the fiscal year with between 481 and 485 stores, including 133 outlets.

To that end, the retailer said it anticipates net sales and comps to rise by a low single-digit percentage in the first quarter, while it’s projecting capital expenditures to be between $4 million and $5 million, compared to the year-ago period’s $6.7 million.

In addition, total inventory at the end of the first quarter is expected to increase in the low single-digit percentage range in the run-up to the Mother’s Day and early summer selling period.