December 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

The Finish Line`s focus on e-commerce delivers results

The Finish Line`s strategy to enhance e-commerce sales is showing positive results as the multichannel shoe and apparel retailer’s third quarter web sales increased 11%.

Multichannel shoe and apparel retailer The Finish Line Inc. says web sales were up 11% in the third quarter vs. the prior-year quarter. The company, which did not break out online sales in its quarterly report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, notes that year-to-date web sales are up 8.6%.

The Finish Line, No. 161 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name) continues its strategy to enhance e-commerce sales. The company established a dedicated e-commerce division in late August to improve the customer experience and increase online sales and profits.

“In addition to continuous improvement in execution at the store level, we also recognize the importance of the Internet in our shopping culture,” CEO Glenn Lyon told Wall Street analysts during a recent conference call. “Our core customer is increasingly interested in and excited about procuring products through the Internet. This business continues to grow as we remain focused on improving the quality of our interactions and communications with customers through this channel.”

Online sales for the quarter ended Nov. 28 were positive, president and chief operating officer Steve Schneider told analysts. “We have seen exceptional online sales of hot products such as toning and fleece prior to their widespread availability in our stores, and continue to enhance the site to improve navigation and enrich the overall customer experience,” he said. “It is extremely important for Finish Line to continue to deepen our cross-channel strategy, which integrates the store and online experiences to serve customers whenever and however they want to shop with us.”

Toning shoes are designed for lower body conditioning and have become a strong category in women’s footwear for Finish Line, Schneider said.

For the third quarter, Finish Line reports:

  • Total sales were $240.1 million, down by 0.2% compared with $240.6 million a year ago.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 1.7% compared with a 3.3% comparable-store sales decline in Q3 2008.
  • Net income was $6.5 million, thanks to a favorable tax credit ruling by the Internal Revenue Service regarding the tax treatment of the terminated merger with Genesco Inc. Without the tax credit net income was $16,000.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, Finish Line reports:
  • Total sales of $797.9 million, down by 6.2% from $850.6 million a year ago.
  • Comparable-store sales decreased 4.7%.
  • Net income was $20.0 million, with the one-time $6.5 million tax benefit, compared with net income of $10.8 million in the prior year period.
Finish Line opened four stores and closed four in the third quarter. “For the year to date we’ve opened five new stores and closed 13 stores,” senior vice president and chief financial officer Edward Wilhelm told analysts. “We do not expect to open any new stores in the fourth quarter but do expect to close an additional 12 to 15 stores in Q4.”

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