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hhgregg Lessening Losses, Stemming Sales Declines

hhgregg appears to be coming out of its tailspin.

Under the watch of formally appointed CEO Robert Riesbeck, the multiregional appliance, CE and furniture chain has stemmed the tide of widening losses and steepening sales declines.

The company, which released its fiscal first-quarter results today, said improving comp sales and rising gross margin helped narrow its losses for the second consecutive reporting period.

Net loss was $7.2 million for the three months ended June 30, compared to a year-ago net loss of $8.8 million and a prior-quarter net loss of $9 million.

Net sales slipped 4 percent to $424 million, vs. last year’s 6.6 percent decline, and comp sales decreased 3.9 percent, vs. a prior-year drop of 6.3 percent.

Driving the improvements was a mix-shift toward margin-rich majaps, which lifted gross profit margin to 31 percent from 30.5 percent last year. White-goods accounted for 64 percent of Q1 sales, up from 59 percent last year, and category comps increased 3.7 percent.

By comparison, comps for furniture and bedding were essentially flat for the quarter and their sales mix remained static at 6 percent, while CE comps fell 17.4 percent and its slice of the pie narrowed from 35 to 30 percent of net sales.

The chain also maintained a tighter rein on costs and reduced advertising expenses by $200,000 thanks to a more efficient (read: digital) ad spend.

“We delivered a solid first fiscal quarter and are off to a positive start to our fiscal year,” Riesbeck said. His top goal: driving revenue, which he is pursuing by building out the retailer’s Fine Lines luxury majap boutiques and remodeling stores to better showcase furniture.

See: What Riesbeck Is Doing To Stop The Bleeding

In addition to his formalized chief executive duties, Riesbeck continues to serve as chief financial officer while hhgregg searches for a successor.