Stein Mart trying new initiatives to attract customers

With sales slipping, retailer to offer Amazon Hub Lockers and a “fine jewelry” department.

  • By Mark Basch
  • | 5:20 a.m. May 30, 2019
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
Amazon customers can order merchandise and have it delivered to a self-service locker. Stein Mart says adding the lockers to its stores will boost traffic.
Amazon customers can order merchandise and have it delivered to a self-service locker. Stein Mart says adding the lockers to its stores will boost traffic.
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Stein Mart Inc. last week reported lower first-quarter earnings, but the Jacksonville-based fashion retailer continues to introduce new programs that it hopes will bring more customers into its stores.

Total sales for the first quarter ended May 4 fell 3.8% to $314.2 million and comparable-store sales (sales at stores open for more than one year) fell 1.7%.

Net income dropped to 8 cents a share, from 16 cents in last year’s first quarter.

“We believe that our sales trends and results will improve in the second half of the year as our 2019 sales-driving initiatives began to roll out a bit later,” CEO Hunt Hawkins said in Stein Mart’s quarterly conference call last week.

Perhaps the most intriguing initiative, announced a day before the earnings report, is the installation of Amazon Hub Lockers in Stein Mart stores.

This program allows shoppers to pick up or return items at self-service kiosks inside Stein Mart stores.

“We view this program as an innovative way to increase traffic to our stores, as well as introduce new shoppers to Stein Mart,” President MaryAnne Morin said in the conference call.

She said Stein Mart already has installed the lockers in 170 of the company’s 283 stores.

Other initiatives to bring more customers to the store include a children’s department, which the company announced in March.

“In the third quarter, we will have kids’ apparel in almost all stores with an expanded assortment online,” Morin.

She also said during last week’s call that Stein Mart is launching a “fine jewelry” department.

“This is another opportunity to expand our luxury offerings. It will also drive new shopping occasions to increase transactions and average unit retail,” she said.

Besides new products, Stein Mart is relying on new technology, including a program called “Endless Aisle.”

“This mobile technology gives our stores access to additional inventory they do not have in stock, so associates can locate products and order it online for their customers,” Morin said.

“The same device also does mobile checkout and credit card applications to expedite line busting during peak selling periods.”

Stock awards boost Hawkins’ pay

Stein Mart’s fiscal year ends about a month after the calendar year, so the company’s annual reports and proxy statements are filed about a month after most other public companies.

Because of that, Hawkins was not included three weeks ago in the look at compensation packages for CEOs of Jacksonville-based public companies in the Jacksonville Daily Record and the Jacksonville Record and Observer.

Stein Mart’s proxy statement filed May 7 shows Hawkins’ total compensation package was $1.035 million in fiscal 2018, about 33 percent higher than 2017.

An increase in the estimated value of stock awards accounted for most of the pay raise.

Shoe Carnival misses forecast

Shoe Carnival Inc.’s stock fell to a 52-week low last week after reporting earnings below analysts’ forecasts.

The footwear chain controlled by former Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver reported adjusted earnings of 78 cents a share for the first quarter ended May 4, down from 83 cents the previous year and below the consensus forecast of 84 cents by analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Total sales fell 1.4% to $253.8 million and comparable-store sales decreased by 0.2%.

“We experienced a very cold and wet start to the quarter and a delay in tax refunds, which resulted in a high single-digit comparable store sales decrease in February,” CEO Cliff Sifford said in Shoe Carnival’s conference call.

Shoe Carnival and other companies in the footwear industry are closely watching the trade war with China and how it might impact shoe imports.

Sifford said he is on the board of the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, which is lobbying federal policymakers to remove footwear from the potential list of goods subject to a 25% tariff.

“We are working very hard to try to make sure these tariffs don’t go through,” he said.

“But we can’t just sit back and hope that it doesn’t happen so we are making changes. We have begun to move product away from China and then to other countries and Southeast Asia,” he said.

Shoe Carnival’s stock fell $3.30 to $26.71 last Thursday after the earnings report.

Weaver is chairman of Shoe Carnival and his family is the largest stockholder, controlling about 34% of the shares.

NASCAR buying International Speedway

Six months after first announcing its offer to buy Daytona Beach-based International Speedway Corp., NASCAR Holdings Inc. last week agreed to buy the company for about $2 billion.

Privately owned NASCAR is the governing body for stock car racing and publicly traded International Speedway operates the Daytona International Speedway and 12 other racetracks.

Both companies are controlled by the family of NASCAR founder Bill France, which has voting control of about 75% of International Speedway’s stock.

NASCAR in November offered to buy the shares of International Speedway not owned by the France family for $42 a share, but last week’s agreement increased the price to $45.

NASCAR had said the original $42 offer was a 14% premium to International Speedway’s average price in the 30 days before the offer was announced.

International Speedway said it expects the deal to close before the end of this year.



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