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Bon-Ton Stores Management Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Some of my observations. I've visited about 80 stores across all banners since I began. As I previously stated, I believe there are numerous opportunities to improve the performance in our stores.

Merchandising. We continue to evaluate and make adjustments to our assortment. We recognize that we were too aggressive in shifting our assortment mix towards updated from traditional. We believe this is the primary reason for the sales shortfall in this category in ready-to-wear, including missed business in the opening price points. We have aggressively corrected this with receipts near the end of April, including opening price points of traditional merchandise.

We will continue to identify ways to enhance our merchandise assortment as we review other categories. We have increased the communication between the stores and our planning and allocation teams. We are also taking into account input from the stores to a much greater degree, giving them the opportunity to make adjustments to better align with what they observed from their customers' response.

We are building upon what we learned from last fall and this spring's rollout of our strategic initiatives, the good and the bad, and are applying what we learned to our stores. We will add an additional 31 stores that reflect these strategic initiatives in the fall, which will support our growth strategy.

I continue to meet with our vendors to discuss ways in which we can grow the business together. They have been very supportive and have given us the opportunity to expand certain key brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, into additional doors and online.

We recently announced Tony's plan to retire. I'm pleased that Tony is staying until February of 2013 to assist me in my transition here at Bon-Ton.

As far as marketing is concerned, Luis Fernandez has joined the company as our Chief Marketing Officer, a new position for us. We believe our marketing messaging will benefit greatly from Luis' expertise. We anticipate these benefits will impact our stores and eCommerce operations, both in driving sales and doing so more efficiently. We plan to deliver a more simplified, clear and concise message, resulting in an improved overall shopping experience for our customers.

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