Trans World Entertainment Turns Profit as It Continues Shift From Music

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An F.Y.E. storefront in Plantation, Florida. 

Trans World Entertainment continues its winning ways, posting a profit of $194,000, or one cent per diluted share, on sales of nearly $78 million, in its first quarter ended May 2. That's an improvement on the $386,000 in red ink it posted in the corresponding quarter for the year before, when revenue was $87.2 million.

"We were profitable in the first quarter in 2012 and 2013 but it had been quite a while before that" when the chain was last profitable in the first quarter, Trans World Entertainment's CFO said during a conference call with investors.

Trans World, which operates F.Y.E. stores, has posted a profit in each of its last four years as a shift away from music into other higher margin product lines like trend merchandise and portable electronics has helped the chain navigate through declining CD sales.

Music sales, which posted a 7.1 percent comparable-store decline, now comprise 27 percent of Trans World revenue; video, which experienced a 7.4 percent decline in comp-store sales, now accounts for 46 percent of revenue; trend merchandise, which was up 26.5 percent in comp-store sales, now represents 15 percent of revenue up from 11 percent at the end of the first quarter last year. The other two smaller categories, electronics, saw a 6.1 percent increase in comparable store sales and now accounts for 9 percent of total sales, while video games were down 23.7 percent and account for 3 percent of sales.

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For the first quarter, the decline in sales is attributed mainly to shuttered stores as it operated 310 stores at the end of the first quarter 2015, versus 333 at the end of Q1 2014. But comparable-store sales also declined 3 percent for this quarter as compared to the corresponding period last year.

The company was able to generate black ink due to an increase in gross profit in all of the chain's merchandise categories, particularly trend merchandise. Gross profit for the quarter was $30.8 million, or 39.5 percent of sales, compared to $32.8 million, or 37.6 percent for the same period last year.

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"The quarter was highlighted by a comparable store sales increase of 18 percent in our emerging trend and electronics categories and a 190 basis point increase in gross margin," Trans World CEO Mike Feurer said in a statement.  "The improvement in gross margin, which was achieved through disciplined inventory control, better price management and a shift in mix to higher margin categories, helped us deliver a year over year improvement in net income."


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