Commenting on the results, Edward Rosenfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Fourth quarter 2014 was a tough quarter capping a difficult year for the Company. Throughout 2014, we were impacted by a lack of significant fashion footwear trends on which to capitalize. In the fourth quarter, we faced additional challenges including production delays on goods from Mexico and slowdowns at the West Coast ports. While 2014 was a difficult year, we are excited about the steps we took during 2014 and early in 2015 to position the company for future growth.”
Net sales for the wholesale business were 270.9 million dollars in the fourth quarter compared to 273.4 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2013. Excluding the results of Dolce Vita, wholesale net sales decreased 6.3 percent compared to the prior year period. Gross margin in the wholesale business decreased to 27 percent compared to 31.8 percent in last year’s fourth quarter.
Retail net sales in the fourth quarter were 71.7 million dollars compared to 69.5 million dollars in the fourth quarter of the prior year. The increase in net sales was driven by the net opening of 14 new stores since the end of the fourth quarter last year, partially offset by a same store sales decrease of 2.3 percent. Retail gross margin increased to 61.7 percent compared to 61.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, as a result of decreased promotional activity.
During the fourth quarter, the company opened two full price stores and four outlet stores, and acquired 21 retail stores with the acquisition of the company’s Mexican licensee. The company ended the year with 160 company-operated retail locations, including 32 outlets, four Internet stores and four joint venture locations in South Africa.
For fiscal year 2015, the company expects that net sales will increase 7 percent to 9 percent over net sales in 2014. Diluted EPS for fiscal year 2015 is expected to be in the range of 1.85 dollars to 1.95 dollars.