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Express Q1 earnings climb


Columbus, Ohio Express reported its sales and margins improved during the first quarter, helping drive a major increase in its profit.

The company earned $30.6 million for its quarter that ended May 1, compared with a net income of $7.6 million earned in the first quarter of last year.

That includes several one-time items associated with its initial public offering, which occurred on May 18.

Net sales for the quarter increased 13.9% to $426.5 million, from $374.4 million in first quarter 2009. Express executives said the popularity of its new product offerings drove the strong quarter.

Its gross margin rose to 36.9% from 29.9% a year earlier, while same-store sales increased 12%.

Operating income more than doubled to $51.3 million, or 12.0% of net sales, compared with $20.9 million, or 5.6% of net sales, in first quarter 2009.

"Our leadership as a go-to fashion authority for our customer led to a 12% increase in comparable store sales, a 57% increase in e-commerce merchandise sales, and operating income that more than doubled versus the prior year - a great start to 2010,” said Michael Weiss, Express president and CEO. “Strong response to our offerings across categories drove increased regular price sell-through in all channels of distribution, validating the success of our extensive testing program. We were also pleased with our new stores, which are performing at or above expectations.”

During first quarter 2010, the company opened seven new stores and closed four existing stores in the United States, ending the quarter with 576 stores and approximately 5.0 million sq. ft. in operation.

For the remainder of 2010, the company plans to open 15 additional stores and close two existing locations in the United States, ending the year with 589 locations and approximately 5.1 million sq. ft. in operation.

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