Bassett Announces Fiscal Fourth Quarter Results
Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. announced its results of operations for its fourth quarter ended November 26, 2022.
We posted revenue of $121.0 million in our fourth quarter, a 5.8% increase against the backdrop of an increasingly difficult macroeconomic environment as we head into another year. Operating profit of $6.7 million was slightly ahead of last year even though we made selected price adjustments designed to reduce inventory that were detrimental to our margins. We also invested more digital marketing dollars to drive our top line. Our Company is stronger than when we entered the pandemic three years ago. We have trimmed our underperforming stores, properly adjusted our retail cost structure, gained wholesale market share with independent furniture dealers, and further fortified our strong balance sheet. Still, we acknowledge that fiscal 2023 has started off slowly from a wholesale order standpoint with quarter-to-date written sales off 20% compared to the robust pace we experienced last year. However, quarter-to-date shipments are down 10% as fourth-quarter orders were off modestly. Despite the uncertainty around the current pace of orders, we will concentrate on running our business with financial discipline and operational excellence while executing our growth strategies that are designed to create long term value for our shareholders.
Service levels in our wholesale operations are almost back to the best-in-class standard that was our hallmark prior to the breakdown of the global supply chain. Backlogs are now comparable with pre-pandemic equivalents. Combined wholesale shipments declined 1.6% for the quarter with increases in wood and outdoor furniture products being offset by declines in domestic upholstery and Club Level. As previously discussed, the “right sizing” of our Club Level inventory is negatively affecting our wholesale margins, and, in the case of the fourth quarter, constitutes more than 100% of the year over year wholesale margin shortfall. On a positive note, wholesale inventories declined by $4.0 million in the quarter with Club Level again representing essentially all of the reduction. So, we are making good progress on this front. Also, our domestic upholstery operating margins returned to their historical levels by improving 670 basis points as we are through the period of misalignment between inflated raw materials and our ability to pass those costs along. In fact, we have recently begun to receive several price decreases from various suppliers. Looking ahead, we have returned to a more normalized wholesale operating environment in terms of supply chain. Our challenge now is to efficiently operate while we assess how the economy will affect order flow and our work schedules.
Meanwhile, corporate retail produced its fourth record quarter for the year as the fourth quarter was more profitable than any previous comparable period on record. The year was characterized by a gross margin improvement of 40 basis points to 52.6% and operating profit that more than tripled compared to last year. Our retail backlog remained healthy heading into the new fiscal year as our Black Friday event was relatively strong. 2023 will mark the opening of three new Bassett stores and an extensive remodeling of our Austin, Texas location.
Coming in the second quarter of 2023 is the debut of our new website platform featuring better navigation and architecture designed to drive more consumers to our stores and significantly enhance our ecommerce capabilities. While this will represent the culmination of a multi-year digital transformation plan, it will also provide a platform for greater integration of the website with our store network and better overall customer and product data that will lead to better decision making.
In that vein, we acquired Canadian online furniture retailer Noa Home Inc. in early September to begin our fourth quarter. As expected, the Noa results, now included in our corporate retail segment, were not profitable for the quarter. We spent the three months scaling the business for growth as we worked to get best sellers in stock, opened a new 3PL warehouse in western Canada, and integrated the first Bassett designed product into their lineup. Our focus for this year is to continue to expand their lean assortment and to prepare to open the U.S. market by the fall selling season.
Our partnership with JB Hunt, who purchased the Zenith logistics business from us last February, continues to offer great service to our stores and participating open market dealers. During the quarter, we opened our second Regional Fulfillment Center (“RFC”) with JB Hunt and will use the facility located in the Baltimore area to service our best sellers in the northeast markets. The RFC strategy is unfolding via daily collaboration with the JB Hunt team with three additional centers having been opened around the country in December.
Proceeds from the sale of Zenith were the catalyst for the $14.5 million special dividend that we distributed last April and, in addition, our regular quarterly dividend that we increased in July. Furthermore, in light of the historically low earnings multiples with which industry stocks have been trading and our belief in Bassett’s future, we retired $15.1 million of our common stock in 2022 including $4.9 million in the fourth quarter. After returning over $35 million to shareholders in 2022, we have the financial strength to pursue our long term growth strategies.
For the full fourth quarter results, click here.
About Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc.
Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:BSET), is a leading manufacturer and marketer of high quality home furnishings. With 92 company- and licensee-owned stores at the time of this release, Bassett has leveraged its strong brand name in furniture into a network of corporate and licensed stores that focus on providing consumers with a friendly environment for buying furniture and accessories. Bassett’s retail strategy includes stylish, custom-built furniture that features the latest on-trend furniture styles, free in-home design visits, and coordinated decorating accessories. Bassett also has a traditional wholesale business with more than 700 accounts on the open market, across the United States and internationally and a logistics business specializing in home furnishings. For more information, visit the Company’s website at bassettfurniture.com.
J. Michael Daniel – Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org – (276) 629-6614
Source: Bassett Furniture Industries, Incorporated