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The Bon-Ton Stores' CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Turning to some thoughts in the second half of the year, beginning with merchandising. We continue to evaluate and make adjustments to our assortment. We went too far, too quickly in the recalibration of our moderate traditional versus updated merchandise mix. While we think it is important to attract the updated and younger customer, this cannot be at the expense of our loyal, moderate traditional customer. Going forward, our merchandise assortment will be better aligned with our customer both existing and new. This will be a key driver of profitable sales growth.

Private brand accounted for approximately 70% of our shortfall to the merchant’s gross margin plan. We shifted the assortment too far to the updated customer and combined with price increases, this hurt performance. We adjusted these issues and we were able to rework most of our offering for the fall. We expect sales increases in our private brand categories as we have adjusted our merchandise assortment and have the ability to offer more attractive price points in response to lower costs coming from oversees. Overall, we see prices returning close to 2011 levels by the first quarter of 2013 in many areas particularly apparel. And today, we have implemented to various degrees strategic initiatives designed to support our growth strategy in over 120 doors.

I had spent a lot time with our buyers and market. Our partnership with our vendors is stronger than ever. The vendor community has been very supportive and is working with us to drive sales through intensifying additional doors and online.

Regarding our marketing initiatives, Luis Fernandez, our new Chief Marketing Officer has now been with us for a little over three months and we’ve already seen our marketing message benefiting from Luis’ expertise. We were delivering a clear and more concise message around our plan for motions and product initiatives, resulting in improved overall shopping experience for our customer.

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