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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 26, 201703:34 PM EST

Stein Mart eliminates 48 corporate jobs

Company says cuts will reduce expenses as sales decline.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Stein Mart Inc. said Thursday it is reducing corporate office jobs by 10 percent as part of a cost-cutting program at the struggling fashion retailer.

The company eliminated 48 positions, leaving it with 293 corporate staff employees at Stein Mart’s Southbank offices at 1200 Riverplace Blvd.

The company has an additional 100 corporate staffers at other sites. Stein Mart, which operates 293 stores in 31 states, employs about 11,000 companywide.

The company said the job cuts are part of a plan that will save $10 million in expenses in fiscal 2018. Stein Mart reported selling, general and administrative expenses of about $172 million in the first half of fiscal 2017 as it recorded a net loss of $9.3 million.

Comparable-store sales dropped 6.4 percent in the first six months of the year. Comparable-store sales are sales at stores open for more than one year and are considered a key indicator of a retailer’s performance.

 “While we believe our sales-driving strategies are now taking hold, we are still in a very challenging retail environment. With this in mind, we are taking the necessary steps to better position our company for long-term success,” CEO Hunt Hawkins said in a news release.

“Rightsizing efforts are never easy as we understand the significant impact this action has on our associates and their families,” he said.

In addition to cutting jobs, Stein Mart has taken other actions to save money including lowering inventories by 15 percent and reducing capital expenditures by $22 million this year.

Hawkins said the decline in comparable-store sales continued in August and September, exacerbated by the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on some of its stores.

“With only a few days remaining in the month, however, October comp store sales are flat reflecting traction from new merchandising and marketing initiatives put into place this fall,” he said.

“We are encouraged by this significant shift from the negative comp sales trend we saw through September and believe our current strategies are the right ones to build our unique and valuable brand.”

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