Mar 14, 2009
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Neiman Marcus posts loss

Mar 14, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus NMRCUS.UL posted a quarterly loss on Wednesday March 18th, as sales suffered through the holiday season, and said it would be conservative in its outlook until consumer spending improves.

Neiman, which runs both its namesake and Bergdorf Goodman stores, also said it was working to sell its fashion items at full price going forward. Its plan, which mirrors rival Saks' (SKS.N) efforts to move away from deep discounts, comes after both high-end retailers and lower-priced ones resorted to heavy markdowns in the holiday sales season to attract consumers.

"Full-priced selling is what we are concerning ourselves with, and we are trying all we can to entice customers," a company executive said during a conference call.

The company posted a net loss of $509.2 million in the fiscal second quarter that ended on January 31, compared with a profit of $44.3 million, a year earlier.

Adjusted for charges, such as a non-cash impairment costs and a pension curtailment gain, Neiman said its loss in the quarter was $32.6 million.

Neiman faced a 21.4 percent drop in second quarter sales to $1.08 billion, while same-store sales sank 22.8 percent.

The company has also said it will cut out or delay some projects to give itself additional liquidity.

Neiman, like other upscale retailers Saks and Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N), has taken a deep hit as even shoppers who frequent higher-end stores cut back on spending in the recession.

Earlier this year, Neiman said it planned to cut 375 jobs, or about 3 percent of its workforce.

Company executives said luxury shoppers had not abandoned upscale items, but were just spending "a lot less" than they did earlier. It was not clear when the typical luxury consumer would return to normal spending, they added.

"We don't know what she is doing," an executive said. "I don't think any retailer knows what the consumer is going to do in this environment."

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; Editing by Derek Caney and Tim Dobbyn)

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