March 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Buoyed by web sales, The Children’s Place posts year-end profits

Web sales of $82.7 million rose more than 50% over last year. Net income was $82.4 million on sales of $1.63 billion.

The growth in web sales outstripped the overall growth rate at specialty retailer The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. for its fiscal year ended Feb. 2. For the year, ChildrensPlace.com posted sales of $82.7 million, up 54.5% from $53.5 million the previous year. By contrast, total net sales for the Children’s Place brand rose 7% to $1.63 billion, up from $1.52 billion in 2007.

The web accounted for 0.5% of the brand’s total sales vs. 0.4% in the prior year. Comparable store sales increased 2% for the year. The Children’s Place, No. 181 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide , posted net income of $82.4 million for the year, compared to a net loss of $59.57 million in fiscal 2007.

”We feel very good about our accomplishments in 2008, a tough year for retailers,” says Chuck Crovitz, interim chief executive officer. He reports that the brand grew income from continuing operations by almost 60% for the year. “While we recognize that our business is not immune to the current economic downturn, we remain fully committed to restoring the company to its historical levels of profitability over the next few years once the economy stabilizes.”

The company didn’t break out e-commerce results for the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter total sales of $441.5 million were slightly below 2007 fourth quarter sales of $443.3 million. The Children’s Place reported net income of $23.2 million compared to a fourth-quarter 2007 net loss of $4.2 million.

The previous Q4 loss reflected losses at The Disney Store chain, which includes DisneyStore.com, which The Children’s Place had operated under a licensing agreement since 2004 but sold back to The Walt Disney Co. for about $55 million last year. Disney is No. 67 in the in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide .

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