A 5 percent increase put Foot Locker’s global sales at $1,281 million for the first quarter ended May 1. Net income jumped by 74 percent to $53 million, and easily beat the consensus forecast of $44 million. Comparable store sales went up by 4.8 percent. Excluding the impact of currencies, the comparable sales gain was 3.0 percent. Foot Locker’s gross margin rose by 1.4 percentage points, with 0.8 percentage points of that from improved merchandise margins and the rest from buying and store occupancy leverage.
Europe and Canada had mid-single-digit sales gains on a comparable basis, with progress in many important markets such as France, Italy, Germany and the U.K. The increases in footwear spanned across several categories, and licensed products drove the growth in apparel.
Instead, the group’s sales in Asia-Pacific fell by the low double digits. The U.S. Foot Locker group had a mid-single-digit gain, led by gains in Lady Foot Locker, Champs and Foot Locker. The e-commerce business had a low-single-digit gain.
New technologies and the success of toning were important factors driving its U.S. retail athletic footwear business, which was up by the high single digits. Running, where Foot Locker has been trying to broaden its reach, was a major driver while basketball footwear held up well on marquee styles from Nike.
The company bought some 500,000 shares of its stock during the quarter for $7.7 million as part of a recent $250 million authorization. It opened 14 stores, remodeled 42 stores and closed 29 during the quarter, bringing company-operated stores worldwide to 3,485.