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At Barneys New York, Black is Back in Quarter As Owners Evaluate Bids

With Barneys New York up for sale, its improved financial results for the second quarter seem to put its owners in an enviable position.

NEW YORK — Barneys New York is in what appears to be an enviable position.

The retailer’s latest results reflect the kind of figures most companies up for sale could only hope for: Profits instead of losses, along with double-digit percentage gains for same-store sales, for both the second-quarter and the six-month periods.

Barneys’ owners, Whippoorwill Associates and Bay Harbour Management, put the chain up for sale on June 30. Despite the strong results in the first half, a disposal remains up in the air since many of the companies expected to put in an offer apparently have not done so. The two owners are understood to be seeking $500 million-plus for Barneys.

For the three months ended July 31, income was $891,000, or 6 cents a share, versus a loss of $2.1 million, or 15 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization skyrocketed 94.3 percent to $9.3 million compared with just $4.8 million last year. Sales rose 14.9 percent to $102 million from $88.7 million, while same-store sales gained 13.8 percent.

“I think the first quarter was fantastic, and it continued for [us] in the second quarter. The initial read for the third is very good. We are positive for the third quarter, and are [now] taking a look at the fourth quarter,” said Howard Socol, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The ceo noted that it is too soon to predict holiday sales. “I don’t know how to call it after the election,” he said, adding retailers in general will have to wait to gauge how it will “affect people’s psyche.”

But if current trends for the last seven months are tea leaves of any kind, 2004 could end up as a very good year for Barneys New York.

The big seller in the stores has been the concept of color everywhere the eye can see, which has helped drive more full-price sales.

“Color has been selling, from different handbags to scarves to coats and apparel. We saw an indication of this early on in the beginning of the year,” said Socol. “The acceptance by customers and their enjoyment of different colors has been great. Even men are wearing more color than before in their woven shirts and sport shirts. It is across the board in Barneys and in our Co-op stores. We’ve even seen more color in shoes than ever before. Color has been a very positive influence on all of fashion.”
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