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B&N Retail Strong, Though Website Is Big Loser
-- 5/25/98
Barnes &Noble reported last week that total sales for the first quarter ended May 2, 1998, rose 12%, to $666.3 million, led by a 14% gain in superstore sales to $551 million. The increase in superstore revenues reflects a 6.1% improvement in comparable-store sales, as well as new store openings and increased operating leverage. B&N reported an operating profit of $95,000 for the most recent quarter, compared to operating profit of $3.1 million in the first quarter of fiscal 1998. The company's net loss fell to $3.3 million from $3.9 million.
The loss in the quarter was entirely the result of barnesandnoble.com. The Internet bookselling service posted sales of $9.4 million in the quarter and an operating loss of $13.6 million, which nearly offset operating profit of $13.7 million from its retail business. The net loss for barnesandnoble.com was $8 million, compared to net earnings of $4.7 million for the retail segment.

Through May 2, barnesandnoble.com had more than 500,000 customers in 158 countries. Its sales in the quarter represented a 14% increase over revenues in the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998. The company also announced that in June it plans to launch an enhanced version of its website that will include such features as one-click ordering, improved search capabilities, new editorial content and an updated design.
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