Friday, May 27, 2005

Stein Mart Sees Brighter Future Ahead

Source: Cecile B. Corral

Jacksonville, Fla. - Stein Mart Inc. is anticipating an upturn in its uneven home business beginning in the second half of this year and into spring as a result of new leadership and other improvements, the company said during its first quarter conference call last week.

"The home area continues to lag, but we have hired a new (general merchandise manager) over home and look forward to getting a new perspective on this important vision," said Michael Fisher, president and CEO.

He was referring to the recent appointment of Kassie Jones as vice president and general merchandising manager for the home area. Her background in retail includes management positions in the home area with Federated Department Stores, The Great Indoors and, most recently, Home Shopping Network, where she worked as senior vice president and general merchandising manager over home fashions.

Fisher added that he believes the company is better positioned in its home category for the second half of this year, "in terms of getting fundamental businesses at the appropriate levels. It will take some time before our new leadership's involvement is actually seen, but I think that will probably be visible in spring season of '06."

Stein Mart has revised its store openings/closings plans for this year, attributing the changes to "external issues, including construction delays." The company now expects eight to nine new stores - including one relocated site - to open this year and seven to shut down. Some stores originally planned for 2005 have been pushed back to 2006.