Tuesday, February 2, 1999

Polo closing nine stores

From staff and wire reports


Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is closing nine stores and cutting about 250 jobs in an effort to slash expenses and boost its sluggish profits.

The New York-based fashion house announced the reorganization today while reporting a 13.5 percent drop in profits for its fiscal third quarter. The job cuts represent about 4 percent of Polo's 5,800-person work force.

The company declined to name the locations of the stores being closed. Polo has two stores in Hawaii, one in Ala Moana Center and one in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

It's been a tough year for Polo, one of the best-known brands in the world of fashion today. Its merchandise is found in the most upscale country clubs and corporate boardrooms as well as on the streets of urban centers around the world.

While expenses have risen, Polo has been hit by a sharp sales decline at the nation's outlet centers, where it operates about 89 stores. In addition, business at department stores, where Polo sells much of its merchandise, has been less than stellar.

Polo reported today it earned $25.4 million, or 25 cents a share, in the three months ended Dec. 26, down from $29.3 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 9.6 percent to $447.5 million from $408.3 million.

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