Roberds Posts Losses For Year, Drops Sale, Merger Strategy

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Roberds, which has been operating under Chapter 11 since mid-January, reported ongoing losses for 1999 and the fourth quarter but indicated it has abandoned the idea of a sale or merge and is now focused on recovery as an ongoing retailer.

For the year's final quarter the Dayton-based chain recorded a net loss of $8.77 million, which was down from the year-earlier deficit of $11.8 million, while sales, at $74.8 million, declined 14.6%. For the year Roberds' loss declined to just less than $14 million from the $16.1 million of 1998, and sales, at $287 million, were off 9.9%.

CEO Melvin Baskin said the quarter's performance was hampered by reduced credit offered by banks and vendors, and as a result, the chain entered the holiday season with insufficient inventory. The company also lowered pricing to stimulate sales, he said, which reversed what had been a successful effort to increase margins and reduced its sales dollar volume.

Since obtaining debtor-in-possession financing, said Baskin, inventories are being rebuilt, the large backlog of customer orders is being taken care of, and in the first weekend of March, "we advertised to the public for the first time in almost two months."

In addition to withdrawing from the Tampa and Cincinnati markets, he said, Roberds will close a store in Buckhead, Ga., as part of its reorganization, which will leave it with six outlets in the Dayton area and eight in the Atlanta market.

Roberds had explored the sale "of additional geographic areas or the entire company, "but the party that had expressed interest in the company" has withdrawn, Baskin stated. There is no active effort to sell off its parts, and the retailer "is now focusing attention and resources on turning around its operating performance in the two remaining markets and improving performance."

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