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  • Michael J. Knell

BMTC posts loss, opens EconoMax

MONTREAL - In response to what it sees as a hesitant consumer marketplace in Quebec, BMTC Group has launched EconoMax, a four-unit promotionally priced retail banner. It made the move after falling into the red at the end of the first quarter and suffering a decline in sales that it attributed to sagging consumer confidence.
     Quarterly revenues were $154.8 million, down 5.1% from the same period last year.
     The publicly held merchant declared a net loss of $1.8 million or four cents per share, reversing last year's earnings of $2.8 million or five cents per share.
     The company said the cost of options had no effect on first quarter results, although the current share buyback scheme reduced earnings by one cent per share.
     In a note to shareholders, Yves Des Groseillers, BMTC's chairman, president and CEO, said the weakness seen in the market in early 2011 was amplified in the opening months of 2012.
     "The Quebec sales tax increase, tighter credit conditions and significant job losses are not conducive to spending on durable consumer goods," he said. "Also, for the past few years, the middle class consumer has seen their buying power reduce significantly."
     This environment prompted the launch of EconoMax, which Des Groseillers described as offering "warehouse prices in a warehouse décor ... in order to give consumers a variety of more affordable products."
     All four stores are converted BMTC liquidation centers in the greater Montreal region.
     The banner is firmly positioned in the promotional and entry level price points. On its website, EconoMax is offering a queen-size bedroom set from Dynamic Furniture for $799; a bonded leather sofa from Primo International for $199; a Nenuphar II queen-size mattress from Spring Air Sommex (box spring not included) for $349 and a laundry pair from Inglis for $549.
     The costs associated with launching the new banner were assumed in the first quarter, although no dollar figure was provided.
     BMTC also reported that a 10,500-square-foot expansion to the Brault & Martineau store in LaSalle will be completed in June, bringing the store to 55,500 square feet.
The replacement for the Ameublements Tanguay store in Levis is also scheduled to open at the end of June.
BMTC remains the largest full-line furniture, mattress and appliance retailer in Quebec. It operates 32 stores under the Brault & Martineau, Brault & Martineau Sleep Gallery, Ameublements Tanguay and EconoMax banners.

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