Localized Assortments Produce Solid Q1 Results for Ross Stores

Reporting solid financial results for its first quarter, including a 22% increase in net earnings and a 7% rise in sales, Ross Stores executives credited leaner, more localized merchandise assortments as a key factor in its improved performance.

Net earnings for Q1 rose to $173 million, a 22% increase over the $142.3 million in earnings during the same period last year. Sales increased 7% to $2.07 million during the three-month period that ended April 30, 2011, and comp store sales were up 3% during the quarter, on top of a 10% gain in the prior year.

The department store retailer announced it is on track to open a total of approximately 60 Ross and 20 dd's DISCOUNTS locations throughout 2011, including the retailer's previously reported initial entry into Illinois and Arkansas with about 15 stores this fall.

"The investments we've made in improved localized planning and trending, what I call micro-merchandising, should be particularly helpful as we move into new markets, in terms of making sure we have the right assortment, and trending that assortment based upon the local customer needs," said Michael O'Sullivan, president and COO of Ross Stores, during a recent conference call.

Leaner inventories are also helping Ross keep its assortments closer to local customer preferences, according to O'Sullivan. "The merchandise will turn faster and we'll be able to replenish it more rapidly with merchandise that we think is more appropriate for that customer, based upon the sales trend," he noted.

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