Stein Mart Exploring Strategic Alternatives

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Stein Mart is the latest in a string of retailers to recruit help in determining a way forward.

The off-price retailer announced Monday that a special committee appointed by its board of directors has assembled a team to explore strategic alternatives and ways to improve operational performance.

The company has retained PJ Solomon as its investment banking and financial advisor, along with Alvarez & Marsal to review its operations for performance enhancements.

CEO Hunt Hawkins said in a statement, “Given the continuing challenges of the retail environment, it is prudent for us to review our strategic options while focusing on ways to improve our business.”

The retailer’s third quarter fiscal results revealed comp store sales were down 6.9%, while e-commerce sales skyrocketed 32 percent. Total sales for the quarter ended Oct. 28 decreased 4.7% to $285.4 million. The company reported a net loss for the period of $14.6 million or 31 cents per diluted share compared to a net loss of $11.0 million or 24 cents per diluted share in 2016.

The bright spot in the company’s financials was a 20 percent reduction in inventory compared to the prior year period and its effect on selling and markdowns.

As part of a $10 million cost savings plan announced in October, Stein Mart plans will attempt to keep inventories down by 15 percent, reduce capital expenditures by $22 million and cut headcount in the corporate office by 10 percent. The retailer is also on a mission to bring in more modern apparel in the moderate rather than opening price points. The chain has also rejiggered its planograms to boost brand recognition and fit the match the lower inventory.

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Stein Mart operates 293 stores in 31 states.

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