Explosive growth in flat-panel TVs helped regional A/V specialists Ultimate Electronics and Harvey Electronics post single-digit comp-store gains for the just-ended quarter.
For Ultimate Electronics, same-store sales were up 2 percent for the three months ended April 30, representing the second consecutive quarter of positive comps for the Denver-based chain. Total revenue grew 23 percent to $142.1 million, driven by the company's aggressive store expansion strategy. The build-out will continue throughout the year, with two new St. Louis stores set to open in July and September, and eight to 10 slated for Dallas-Fort Worth — a new market for Ultimate — between August and year's end.
Helping to fuel the expansion is a just completed public stock offering that netted the company $85 million.
On the product front, president/chief operating officer Dave Workman said that DTV led all categories in dollar growth with a 59 percent surge over the prior-year period, while unit sales for all flat-panel TVs skyrocketed 495 percent to about 1,000 pieces.
For Harvey Electronics, total sales grew 13.5 percent to $10.4 million, while comps climbed 5.7 percent for its fiscal second quarter ended April 27. Six-month net was up 10.1 percent to $22.8 million and same-store sales grew 1.1 percent for the period.
Harvey president Franklin Karp said "phenomenal demand" for flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs and custom home installation services were key sales drivers, and attributed the company's improved results to the reopening of its flagship store in Manhattan and the addition of a "very profitable" location in Eatontown, N.J.Elsewhere in retail, Sears said sales for the 13 weeks ended May 4 were down 1 percent to $6.8 billion and comp sales were off 3.6 percent, while April net was flat at $2.2 billion and comps slid 2.8 percent. Chairman/CEO Alan Lacy said hardlines continued to be the top-performing sector, "led by strong sales increases in home appliances."
Revenue was more robust for other national mass merchants. Wal-Mart said April sales spiked 9.3 percent to $11.3 billion and comps grew 3.2 percent at its discount stores, while net at Target Stores grew 11.1 percent last month to $2.4 billion against essentially flat comps that edged up 0.8 percent.
Among the warehouse clubs, channel leader Costco said sales grew 11 percent to $2.8 billion and comps gained 6 percent in April, while No. 2 Sam's Club saw net increase 9.7 percent to $2.3 billion and comps climbed 4 percent for the month. BJ's Wholesale Club said strong comp sales in video games, among other categories, helped grow revenue 11.5 percent to $404 million, and pushed same store sales up 4.2 percent last month.