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Clint Engel

Conn's Sales off 15%; Furniture a Bright Spot

BEAUMONT, Texas - Furniture, electronics and appliance retailer Conn's posted a 15.2% drop in second quarter retail segment sales, citing store closings and "negative industry trends" in its electronics and appliance businesses.
     But its furniture and bedding business was a shining star, recording a sales increase and helping to boost overall margins. Retail segment net sales for the period ended July 31 - including product sales, repair service agreement commissions and service revenues - declined to $152.2 million from $179.3 million for the same quarter a year ago.
     Furniture and mattress sales in the quarter, however, rose about 7% to $22.7 million or 14.9% of total sales from $21.2 million or 11.8% of the total a year ago.
     Same-store sales for the period decreased 12.8%, but the company said the performance improved as the quarter progressed with the best results following the July Fourth holiday weekend. Since that weekend, same-store sales have been down in the mid-single-digit range, the company said in a release.
     Net sales for the first six months decreased 9.8% to $309.2 million and same-store sales were down 8.6%.
     Conn's, with 71 stores in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, said second-quarter results were hurt by negative trends in its consumer electronics and appliance business, particularly television sales, and also were affected by the closing of four stores during the quarter, two in Dallas and one each in San Antonio and Austin, Texas.
     The company said that in stores where it is devoting more space to furniture and mattresses, there are initial signs that the move "will help drive continued growth" in the category.

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