Pier 1 Imports in the black

Pier 1 Imports returned to black in the fourth quarter, and recorded its first comparable-store sales gain in 17 quarters.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company had earnings of $13.7 million, up from a net loss of $58.7 million in the same period last year. Sales declined for the fourth quarter, down 7.8 percent to $436.7 million from $473.7 million last year.

“Total sales were negatively impacted by the net closure of 79 stores,” the company said in a statement, adding that last year’s fourth quarter included an additional week by comparison. Comparable-store sales rose 2.5 percent.

The company saw a big decline in costs related to personnel and marketing -- this included “savings of approximately $13.6 million in payroll, $9 million in marketing expense and $11.9 million in other general administrative costs when compared to the same period last year.”

For the full year, the company saw much narrower losses. Pier 1 lost $96 million in the most recent fiscal year, compared with $227.6 million in the prior year.

Pier 1’s president and CEO Alex W. Smith said the fourth quarter was “energizing” as customers began returning to Pier 1 stores.

“We have confidence that if we concentrate on developing powerful assortments that speak to our customer base and further enhance our customer service and in-store presentation, that we will continue making progress in returning our company to profitability and beyond,” he said.

Regarding the sale of the company’s headquarters, announced last month, Pier 1 Imports noted the transaction is expected to close no later than June 30.

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