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Bassett Furniture's sales increase 8.2% in fourth quarter


BASSETT, Va. — Driven by improvements in its wholesale and retail business,Bassett Furniture Inds. said sales rose 8.2% in its fourth fiscal quarter.

The increase included a 12% gain in wholesale shipments to dealers outside the Bassett Home Furnishings store network, and a 5.9% sales increase at its 55 company-owned stores.

Net sales for the quarter ended Nov. 30 totaled $83.1 million, up from $76.8 million the fourth quarter of the previous year.

Net income was $1.61 million or 15 cents per share. That was down from $16.9 million, or $1.55 per share, in the comparable quarter. The previous year's fourth quarter included a $15.9 million tax benefit from a reduction of valuation reserves against the company's deferred tax assets.

Without the tax benefit, net income for the prior year quarter would have been $1 million or 9 cents per share.

Rob Spilman, president and CEO, noted that gross margins grew to 33.3% from 32.7% in the previous year's fourth quarter. The increase was due largely to increased sales in its upholstery operations that provided better leverage against fixed costs, he said.

"Our focus on quality, styling and service levels has enabled us to take market share with independent retailers and grow our comparable retail stores sales, thus driving wholesale segment growth for seven consecutive quarters," said Spilman.

Company-owned stores, meanwhile, recorded a 3% increase in comparable-store sales and had an operating profit of $400,000.

For the 53-week fiscal year ended Nov. 30, sales totaled $321.3 million, an increase of 19.1% from the previous 52-week fiscal year, when sales totaled $269.7 million.

Net income for the year was $5.1 million or 47 cents per share. That was down from $26.7 million or $2.41 per share the previous year. The prior year included an income tax benefit of $14.1 million and $9.01 million in income from antidumping duties.

"Our retail sales channel remains the solid foundation upon which we drive the Bassett brand, our marketing, and our wholesale sales and profitability," Spilman said. "Our store expansion will ramp up significantly in the first half (of 2014) as we add five new stores and reposition two others."

He said three more stores will be repositioned during the second half of the year.

Bassett ended the fiscal year with 55 company-owned and 34 licensed stores.

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