Zumiez is cautious about short-term, bullish about future

By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer

LYNNWOOD — Retailer Zumiez Inc. posted better-than-expected sales this spring, but company executives say their expectations for the year are tempered by an unsteady retail market.

Despite the short-term uncertainty, the future is bright for the Lynnwood-based company, which continues to open new stores, Zumiez Chief Executive Officer Rick Brooks said Thursday during a conference call with investment analysts.

Zumiez had nearly $163 million in net retail and online sales from February to the beginning of May, a 9.7 percent increase over the same period last year. But higher operating costs and other expenses yielded net income of $2.5 million, about identical to the same period in 2013.

Same-store and online sales increased 1.8 percent over the same period last year.

The company expects sales to increase slightly, ranging between $167 million and $171 million through August. Most of its sales are in the second half of the year.

“We remain cautious with our short-term outlook as the uncertainties surrounding the retail environment persist,” Brooks said in the call.

European sales increased nearly 35 percent to $12.3 million for February through early May — the first quarter of the company’s fiscal year. It opened two new stores in Europe during that period and has plans for three more openings this year, which will bring its total there to 17.

Zumiez is bullish about the long term. The company continues opening new stores. During the quarter, it opened seven new stores and is on track for 55 new stores in all through January 2015.

The company began in 1978 with one store in Seattle’s Northgate Mall. Now it has more than 550, including more than 25 in Canada and 14 in Europe.

In all, Zumiez plans to add between 600 and 700 new stores, more than doubling its current physical presence, Chief Financial Officer Chris Work said.

Zumiez isn’t selling a commodity, and it’s more than sportswear. It’s a “lifestyle retailer,” Brooks said. “We’re really serving this consumer who wants to be different, who wants to be unique, wants to make a statement about who they are and what lifestyle they’re embracing through what they wear.”

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.