Orange County Business Journal

Wet Seal Same-Store Sales Down By Less in September

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Foothill Ranch-based Wet Seal Inc. saw same-store sales fall 12.7% last month.

The company’s same-store sales fell 18.3% in August, and Wet Seal executives pointed to the latest numbers to claim progress on a recent switch back to fast-fashion in its stores.

The company made the shift in July, reversing previous initiatives that focused on fewer promotions in stores and online under former Chief Executive Susan McGalla, who was fired the same month.

“These results are in line with expectations we had at the beginning of this quarter for progressive improvements from month to month,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Wet Seal operates 473 Wet Seal stores for teens and 81 Arden B stores for young women.

Both divisions saw September same-stores sales decline, led by a 13.6% drop at Arden B. The Wet Seal division saw same-store sales fall 12.6%.

The company said same-store sales for the October quarter will be “within or slightly better” than originally stated guidance, projecting a fall between 14% and 18%.

“We continue to expect our current performance trend will reverse in the coming months,” the company said. “We remain confident that, as we move into the holiday season, we will see clear signs of improvement and stability in our business, and will ultimately return to a level of sales and earnings that our fast-fashion merchandising strategy has driven for many years.”

Wet Seal expects a loss of between $11.5 million to $14.2 million on net sales of $128 million to $133 million for the October quarter.

Wet Seal recently brought back former Chief Executive Kathy Bronstein as a director, along with former Charlotte Russe Inc. Chief Executive John Goodman.

The two appointments, along with a number of other moves by the board, including a rescinded poison pill provision, have done little to dissuade shareholder Clinton Group Inc. to drop its calls for the removal of four board members.

Wet Seal’s shares held about steady in trading on Tuesday, closing at $3.18 for a market value of about $285 million.