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Better late than never, Cato debuts online


Women’s apparel retailer Cato has made its debut into the world of online shopping with the launch of its first ever e-commerce site. The announcement came as the retailer reported holiday sales for the five-week period ended Jan. 4.

Founded in 1946, Cato operates approximately 1,100 apparel and accessories specialty stores throughout the United States. With so many brick-and-mortar locations, the ability to supplement in-store inventory with an e-commerce strategy geared toward a new generation of connected shoppers became crucial for continued growth.

Cato chose to partner with Celerant Technology, a leading mid-market retail technology provider, to help it create an e-commerce site that tied in existing inventory management systems, branding and service into a customer facing order management software in eight months.

The new website will support the growth of the brand and will offer the same collections as its brick-and-mortar stores, as well as additional sizes, colors and exclusive items.

“We are thrilled to enter the world of ecommerce,” says John Cato, Cato’s chairman, president and CEO “This significant milestone fully rounds out our services and offerings, along with our 1,100 Cato stores. Now our customers have the opportunity to access our fashions and accessories at any time from the comfort of their own devices.”

“When developing our software, we focus on all of our retailer’s needs,” said Ian Goldman, president and CEO of Celerant Technology. “From customer-facing functions to back-office reporting, we provide retailers with a complete real-time, all-in-one system. We are proud of our work with Cato — we worked closely, and truly partnered with them to design, build and implement a complete solution within an extraordinarily short timeframe. We look forward to watching their brand and sales grow exponentially.”

Cato’s holiday sales for the month were $100.1 million, a 3% decrease from sales of $103.3 million for the five weeks ended December 29, 2012. Same-store sales for the month decreased 4%.

"December same-store sales results were negatively impacted by bad weather in a number of our markets early in the month," said Cato. "Excluding the impact of this weather event, the sales environment remained difficult but same-store sales were in line with our year-to-date trend. We now expect that fourth quarter earnings per diluted share will be within the range of $0.11 to $0.15, versus our original guidance of $.17 to $.23 and $0.27 last year. The Company's estimate for full year earnings per diluted share is now in the range of $1.84 to $1.88 vs. our most recent guidance of $1.90 to $1.96 and $2.11 last year. Reflected in both the fourth quarter and full year revised guidance is the effect of $0.08 in store fixture write-offs and store impairment charges. And, when comparing the fourth quarter and year to 2012, please note the prior year numbers include the positive impact of an additional week under the retail 52-53 week calendar."

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