July 1, 2011, 2:29 PM

Web sales slip slightly and total sales fall sharply for retailer School Specialty in fiscal 2011

School Specialty reports a 15% decline in total sales for the year.

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School Specialty, which sells supplemental learning materials online, through catalogs and by a sales force of about 540, ended the year on a positive note in what was otherwise a difficult fiscal 2011.

For the fiscal year ended April 30, School Specialty, No. 130 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, reported:

  • The web accounted for 17.3% of total sales. Based on that metric and others disclosed in previous earnings documents, Internet Retailer calculates e-commerce sales declined year over year .6% to $131.8 million from $132.6 million.
  • A year-over-year decrease of 15% in total revenue to $762.1 million from $896.7 million in fiscal 2010.
  • Net loss was $356.3 million, compared to net income of $25.9 million in fiscal 2010.

"We are cautiously optimistic with the business trends we saw in the fourth quarter," says David J. Vander Zanden, president and CEO. "With state income and sales tax revenues starting to exceed most states' internal projections, we believe education budgets should stabilize and could lead to greater budget visibility and spending confidence on the part of educators for the remainder of the calendar year.”

In the fourth quarter, School Specialty reported:

  • Total sales of $127.35 million, up 8.8% from $117.04 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.
  • Net loss was $22.6 million, compared to a net loss of $13.7 million the same period in 2010.

In June, Vander Zanden announced that he intended to retire April 28, 2012, the end of the company’s fiscal 2012. The 56-year-old started at School Specialty as president and chief operating officer in 1998. The company plans to hire a national search firm to help recruit a successor.

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