August 26, 2011, 4:47 PM

Cost Plus builds to the day when e-commerce will generate $100 million

CEO Barry Feld says Cost Plus has aggressive web plans in mind.

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Although the company didn’t provide much detail, Cost Plus Inc. sees a $100 million future in e-commerce.

On a recent second quarter earnings call CEO Barry Feld told Wall Street analysts that Cost Plus, No. 424 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is putting together an ambitious expansion plan for its online channel.

Cost Plus, which generated Internet Retailer-estimated web sales of $17.0 million in 2010, also wants to eventually build its e-commerce channel into a $100 million operation. “The company continues to move ahead with investment in its growth initiatives: sales-per-square-foot productivity improvements, expansion of the Internet business, a conservative new store opening program, and other initiatives related to wholesale and retail concepts,” Feld told analysts. “There will be good quarters and tough quarters, but that will not prevent the company from reaching its target of $270 sales per selling square foot and judiciously growing the chain up to 500 high-quality retail locations over the longer term, and developing $100-plus million and fully integrated Internet business.”

Cost Plus is a relative newcomer to e-commerce. The company signed a multi-year service agreement with GSI Commerce in 2009 to manage a number of programs, including e-commerce technology, order management, interactive marketing services, site design and e-mail marketing.

Cost Plus may have ambitious plans for e-commerce, but the chain retailer of casual home décor and furnishings, housewares, gifts, jewelry, decorative accessories and related items also is working on growing total sales while dealing with a growing net loss.

For the second quarter ended July 30, Cost Plus reported:

  • Total sales increased year over year 3.2% to $197.9 million from $191.8 million.
  • Net loss was about $8.0 million compared with a net loss of about $7 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2010.

Comparable-store sales increased 3.2%. Same-store sales rose but overall sales and a net loss were affected by a lower average ticket, a later Easter holiday and steeper discounting.

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