April 4, 2017 / 9:04 PM / 6 months ago

Hudson's Bay posts fourth quarter loss; hurt by Saks OFF 5th, Gilt

FILE PHOTO: A man exits a Hudson's Bay department store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian department store retailer Hudson’s Bay Co (HBC.TO) reported a quarterly loss on Tuesday, due in part to an impairment charge related to weak sales at Saks OFF 5TH and Gilt.

The 347-year-old company, which also operates Lord & Taylor in the United States and GALERIA Kaufhof in Europe, reported a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of C$116 million, saying it was a necessary step due to recent sales weakness at its Saks outlet chain, OFF 5TH, and Gilt, an online shopping and lifestyle website.

HBC, which said the two operations have the potential for long term profitable growth, was working to combine inventory at both by the end of the year, refocus on higher-end products, and improve website capabilities.

Changing consumer trends and online competition such as Amazon (AMZN.O), have hurt retailers, especially department stores, with Macy’s Inc (M.N) and debt-laden Neiman Marcus Group among those struggling to turnaround the business.

“The past year was a disruptive one for the retail industry,” said chief executive Jerry Storch in a statement.

“We are taking decisive action and making the tough decisions to ensure continued performance should the current environment persist.”

Last month, Reuters reported that Hudson’s Bay was in exploratory talks to acquire debt-laden luxury retailer, Neiman Marcus Group. This followed a failed effort earlier in the year to bid for Macy’s

The Lord & Taylor operator posted a net loss of C$152 million, or 83 Canadian cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28. That compared with a net income of C$370 million, or C$1.88 per diluted share, a year earlier that also included a C$333 million net tax gain related to the sale of investments in joint ventures.

Quarterly sales rose 2.5 percent to C$4.6 billion, higher than the 4.48 billion analysts had projected according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Adjusted EBITDA, a key earnings measure, was C$404 million, above the C$385 million consensus, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Derek Dley.

HBC said an ongoing operational review included improving its operating model and optimizing in-store operations, adding it would provide further details on initiatives “in due course.”

Hudson’s Bay plans to spend between C$450 million and C$550 million in net capital investments in fiscal 2017, with priority on projects including growth in Europe and ongoing international renovations. Net capital spending is expected to total about C$150 million less than the prior year.

Shares fell 10.3 percent to C$9.70 this week, ahead of results.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Sandra Maler and Tom Brown

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