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West 49 sees stability in its back-to-school results

By Tiffany Montgomery
October 01, 2009 10:10 AM

Canadian action sports retailer West 49 reported yesterday that it "held its ground" in the 2009 back-to-school selling season.

The mall-based company, which is the industry's largest Candian customer, said comps for all doors in all banners during the seven-week period were -5.6%. It noted that West 49 comps were equal to 2008. West 49 operates 133 stores under its various banners.

The company previously planned to report for a five-week period, but extended the report to capture what it called significant business in the other two weeks.

Here's the company's release.

West 49 Inc., Canada's leading action sport retailer, today reported sales results for its fiscal 2010 Back-to-School selling period.

Consolidated net sales for the seven-week period ended September 19, 2009 decreased 3.2% to $39.9 million from $41.2 million for the same period a year earlier.

Consolidated comparable store sales for the seven-week period were down 5.6%; however, comparable stores in the Company's core West 49 banner equaled last year's sales performance despite the challenging retail environment and unseasonably warm weather.

w49"We strategically stocked our stores earlier to prepare for what ended up being a longer Back-to-School selling period as many schools across Canada began up to several weeks earlier than last year," said Sam Baio, Chief Executive Officer of West 49 Inc.

"To reflect the longer selling period and therefore provide the most relevant comparison of our Back-to-School sales performance, we have reported a seven-week year-over-year period. We are not reporting our traditional five-week selling period, as previously indicated, because it excludes a significant proportion of the earlier Back-to-School activity, which makes our traditional five-week period incomplete and not relevant.

"Importantly, although our consolidated comparable store sales were down for the seven-week period, our core West 49 banner held its ground. That said, the retail environment remains difficult, especially in the girls apparel, and consumer spending continues to be very volatile."

About West 49
West 49 Inc. is a leading Canadian specialty retailer of fashion and apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment related to the youth action sports lifestyle.

The Company's stores, which are primarily mall-based, carry a variety of high-performance, premium brand name and private label products that fulfill the lifestyle needs of identified target markets, primarily tweens and teens.

The Company currently operates 133 stores in nine provinces, under the banners West 49, Billabong, Off The Wall, Amnesia/Arsenic and D-Tox, and also operates online at www.boardzone.com. The Company's common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WXX. The Company has approximately 64 million shares outstanding.


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