Whitehall posts third quarter loss of $5.1 million

Whitehall Jewellers, one of the largest U.S. retail jewelry chains, posted a net loss of $5.1 million for the third quarter, ending Oct.31, compared to a $3.5 net loss for the same period a year ago. The company announced its results on Nov. 21.

Comparable store sales for the quarter fell 6.4%, compared to a 14.2% drop the previous year. Total net sales for the third quarter decreased 5.1% to $61.8 million.

Hugh M. Patinkin, chairman and chief executive officer of Whitehall, blamed the lower sales on “weaker than expected mall traffic.”

For the nine-month period, net loss was $4.3 million, less than the net loss of $5.8 million the previous year. There were positive signs, too, for the year to date. Comp store sales were only down 0.6% for this year’s first nine months, compared to a 13.9% decrease last year. Total net sales for the nine months rose 2%, to $12.7 million.

Patinkin noted that that company continues to “effectively manage expenses and cash flow.” In the past two years, he continued, Whitehall has “trimmed costs, streamlined operations and further reduced risks. We are poised to leverage our financial performance as a low cost provider of fine jewelry when economic conditions strengthen and we achieve modest sales increases.”

Whitehall operates 375 stores in 38 states in regional and super-regional malls under the names Whitehall Co. Jewellers, Lundstrom Jewelers and Marks Bros. Jewelers.