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Chain Sales Up 13% in First Quarter to $1.3 Billion
Jim Milliot -- 6/1/98
Sales for the country's four largest bookstore chains rose 13.2%, to $1.35 billion, for the first quarter ended April 30, 1998.
The Borders Group had the largest sales increase in the period, with total revenues up 17.6%, to $545.3 million. The company's superstore group was responsible for the sales improvement, with revenues increasing 27.1%, to $335 million. The gain came from the addition of 43 stores in the most recent quarter, as well as a 4.5% comparable-store sales increase. Sales at Waldenbooks fell 2.8%, to $191.7 million, due to a 0.9% decline in comparable-store sales and a reduction in stores from 930 to 903. Net income for the entire company rose to $3.8 million from $400,000.

Barnes &Noble had the second-largest gain in the quarter, with sales up 11.8%, to $666.3 million. Superstore sales rose 14% in the quarter, and now account for 83% of total revenues.

Books-A-Million president Clyde Anderson called BAM's 9.2% sales increase "disappointing," noting that revenues in the period were weaker than expected in the chain's major product lines. Anderson blamed severe weather conditions and the lack of a dominant bestseller as reasons for the disappointing results. Net income in the quarter fell to $10,000 from $369,000 in last year's first quarter.

Fourth-place Crown Books saw sales fall 0.8%, to $66 million. It's new parent company, Richfood Holdings, reiterated its intention to sll Crown "as soon as practicable." Crown's stock was selling at a 52-week low of $2.25.

First-quarter results from the four major bookstore chains confirmed predictions made by Amazon.com that the Internet bookseller is now the country's third-largest bookselling enterprise. Amazon had sales of $87 million in its first quarter.
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