Belk profits down, sales flat in Q1

Charlotte-based department store company Belk, Inc. said Wednesday that profits fell in its first quarter, as sales remained flat compared to the first quarter last year and expenses rose.

Profits fell 32 percent from the same quarter last year, to $19.3 million. Belk’s sales totaled $955 million in both quarters.

Sales at stores open for a year or more, considered a key measure of a retailer’s health, fell 0.2 percent.

The company’s expenses grew, as Belk invested more money in store remodels and building an e-commerce structure. Belk’s three-year plan calls for spending $700 million on such improvements.

“Although the investments we are making in the Company will continue to impact our short term profitability, we are building a solid foundation for long term growth and success,” said CEO Tim Belk.

Online sales grew 42 percent at Belk, but remained a small part of the company’s overall revenue. Belk said online sales contributed 1.8 percent to the company’s same-store sales during the quarter.