By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
INDIANAPOLIS — Weak TV demand led to soft holiday sales and a projected profit decline for h.h.gregg.
In a preliminary report, the chain estimated that net sales slipped 3.6 percent to $799.6 million for its fiscal third quarter, ended Dec. 31, while comp-store sales sank 9.7 percent.
Net income is expected to fall 22.7 percent to $17.4 million on sluggish TV sales and a one-time $500,000 impairment charge for one store.
Broken out by product category, video led the decline with a 24.6 percent drop in comps, which was partially offset by a 16.2 percent spike in computing and mobile phones comps and a 6.1 percent comp increase in major appliances. The catchall “other” category, which includes CE, is expected to have decreased approximately 23.7 percent.
President/CEO Dennis May attributed the chain’s weak TV performance to “fundamental shifts across the video category” and a decision to focus on larger, higher-end TVs, which boosted margin rates but impacted revenue.
“Declining industry demand for flat screen televisions along with broadened distribution of large-screen televisions negatively impacted overall store traffic and video category sales,” May said.
Conversely, majaps, now the company’s largest category, continues to perform well, posting its sixth consecutive quarter of comp sales increases and, ostensibly, market share gains, he said.
h.h.gregg is also pleased with its computing/mobile phone business, as well as the recent rollouts of furniture and Apple products, and continues to test new financing options and product categories including exercise equipment “that further diversify our business and reduce our dependence on new product innovations in the video sector,” May said.
In a research note, Janney retail analyst David Strasser observed that h.h.gregg “will need to change their mix away from TVs, as this category will continue to be impacted by lack of innovation and the economy for big-ticket products.” He said, “Furniture and PCs seem like keepers going forward, but the exercise equipment still needs some work before it’s ready for prime time.”
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.