Pep Boys reports sales increase

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Pep Boys -- Manny, Moe & Jack's sales for the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, 2005, totaled $2.2 billion, a 6.5% increase over last year's levels.

The Philadelphia, Pa.-based company's fourth quarter sales totaled $554 million, 4.6% higher than the $529.6 million recorded during the previous year's fourth quarter. (Pep Boys' 2004 fourth quarter ended on Jan. 29 as well.)

Fourth quarter net losses from continuing operations increased to $9.6 million.

Comparative retail sales grew 8.2% "but the gross profit percentage from comparable retail sales decreased from 28.2% to 25.3%," say Pep Boys officials.

"Comparable service center revenue decreased by .3% and gross profit percentage from comparable service center revenue decreased from 28.2% to 27.3%."

"Strong comparable sales is a key element of the retail renewal program that we started in the fourth quarter last year," says Pep Boys Chairman and CEO Larry Stevenson. "But we have work to do to improve our resulting operating margins.

"This quarter, for the first time, we faced the very high comparable merchandise sales that we achieved over the last four quarters and I am pleased that we were able to show significant additional comparable merchandise sales growth.

"While our comparable service center revenue accelerated from the previous few quarters and we believe that our personnel and tire initiatives are progressing, the bulk of the improvement in our service business results was due to an improved economic environment and promotional activities, rather than from core operating improvements."

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