Watsonville’s West Marine shrinks quarterly loss

YACHTING 5WATSONVILLE—Boating retailer and wholesaler West Marine reported a 12 percent jump in first quarter revenues compared to a year ago, reflecting an improving market in the boating industry.

“The 2015 boating season is off to a strong start and we are very pleased with our comparable store sales results in the first quarter,” said Matt Hyde, West Marine CEO. Hyde characterized 2014 as “a year of building momentum” and said it was continuing into this year. He was optimistic about 2016 as well.

“We were positive across every region including the northeast,” Hyde said.

The company ended last year with the highest customer count since 2007 and it grew again by double digits during a spring sale, Hyde said.

Hyde echoed other boating industry colleagues such as retailer Marine Max and boat builder Marine Products Corp. which recently reported growth in first quarter sales and profits. In April, they each predicted a strong retail environment for the year.

West Marine shares, which rose to nearly $13 in February, dropped to almost $9 a month ago. They have climbed back up to about $10 in recent weeks. West Marine shares closed at $10.05 Thursday.

Core product sales were up 11.1 percent from last year and sales related to the company’s merchandise expansion strategy to broaden its offering of water-related lifestyle products such as footwear, apparel, clothing accessories, fishing products and paddle sports equipment, resulted in a 21.2 percent jump from last year.

West Marine saw first quarter ecommerce sales climb by 27.1 percent from last year.

Company executives said some of the first quarter numbers were boosted by a calendar shift in the number of days in the quarter and they warned the shift would have an unfavorable impact later in the year.

This year, the company opened two new flagship stores including 20,000-square-foot stores in Pensacola, Florida, and in Chicago and revitalized nine existing stores, part of a long-term strategy to consolidate and recreate a more effective sales environment. The company ended 2014 with 2.71 million square feet of store space, according to recent filings with the Security and Exchange Commission.

COMPANY SNAPSHOT

West Marine Inc.

WHAT: West Marine is a retailer and wholesaler of boating supplies with 274 stores in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

HEADQUARTERS: 500 Westridge Drive, Watsonville.

INFORMATION: 728-2700; www.westmarine.com

HISTORY: Founded by Randy Repass in 1968 as a mail order business. The first store opened in 1975. The company went public in 1993.

LEADERSHIP: Matt Hyde, president and chief executive officer.

EMPLOYEES: The company employs about 4,159 people; about 337 work in the Watsonville headquarters.

STOCK: West Marine shares on the Nasdaq closed up 5 cents Thursday to close at $10.05. The 52-week range is $8.37-$13.72.

FINANCIALS: Net revenues for the first quarter were $127.1 million, compared to net revenues of $113.3 million a year ago. Net loss for the first quarter was $10.3 million, or 42 cents per share, compared to net loss of $11 million, or 46 cents per share a year ago.

GUIDANCE: The company reaffirmed its forecast for the year for $6 million to $11 million in sales and earnings per share of 14–27 cents. Comparable store sales are expected to climb 1–4 percent for the year.

Santa Cruz Sentinel article.

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