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By
Reuters
Published
Jun 15, 2010
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Neiman gains from luxe spending; euro worries persist

By
Reuters
Published
Jun 15, 2010

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - Strong results from upscale chain Neiman Marcus Group Inc [NMRCUS.UL] point to an uptick in luxury spending, but a weaker euro and volatile stock markets could still hurt later.







The operator of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores said it is monitoring Europe's debt crisis and has yet to see vendors there pass on gains from a weak euro. Neiman also noted that a weak euro could negatively impact travel to New York, affecting sales at its Bergdorf Goodman stores in Manhattan.

Those concerns, coupled with a volatile stock market, might spell trouble for Neiman and other high-end chains that are riding an uptick in luxury spending. Shares in publicly-traded rivals Saks Inc (SKS.N) and Nordstrom (JWN.N) fell slightly on Tuesday, performing worse than the wider market.

On a conference call, outgoing Neiman Chief Executive Burton Tansky said the "yo-yo effect" in stock markets was a constant concern. And though consumer spending has improved over the past few months, the company does not expect it to return to pre-recession levels.

In the latest third quarter, the Dallas-based chain reported net income of $18.5 million, compared with a loss of $3.1 million a year earlier.

Sales at its specialty stores open at least a year and at its online and catalog unit rose 9.1 percent in the quarter, while overall sales rose nearly 11 percent to $895.2 million.

The news came less than a month after Saks posted strong results, reflecting luxury's improving fortunes.

Neiman, which was bought by an investor group led by TPG Capital [TPG.UL] and Warburg Pincus LLC [WP.UL] in October 2005, sold more items at full price, with a focus on the introduction of spring fashions.

On a conference call, the company said its customers were responding well to its marketing initiatives and new fashions, and were being more spontaneous in their purchases.

It saw strong demand for high-end goods as well as cheaper items in the third quarter. Women's shoes and handbags were the strongest categories.

The retailer, which also operates 28 clearance centers called Last Call and six smaller boutiques called Cusp, said sales were strongest in Florida and the West Coast.

The retailer said in April that Neiman Marcus Stores Chief Executive Karen Katz would replace Burton Tansky as CEO in October.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan, additional reporting by Abhishek Takle and Phil Wahba; Editing by Vyas Mohan, Derek Caney and Gunna Dickson)

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