Zumiez’s sales, profits jump 40 percent

EVERETT – Sales and profits for Zumiez Inc. both leaped by more than 40 percent during the first quarter, as the sports apparel retailer keeps up its rapid pace of growth.

The Everett-based company opened 19 new stores during the three months ended May 5, giving it 254 locations nationwide.

Those new stores helped to boost Zumiez’s sales during the quarter to nearly $69 million, 44 percent higher than the $48 million sold in the same period last year. Sales at stores open at least a year grew by 11 percent.

That included a 17 percent spike in same-store sales during March, a month aided by this year’s early Easter date.

Even though expenses grew with the additional stores, Zumiez earned $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, for the quarter. That amounts to a 46 percent increase from the $1.1 million reported in income for the prior-year period.

Rick Brooks, Zumiez’s chief executive officer, said sales did not seem to be significantly affected by bad weather across the country, a factor cited by several national retailers who reported disappointing first-quarter results.

When asked about advertising, especially in the areas where Zumiez is opening new stores, Brooks said the company hasn’t changed its strategy. Through its history, Zumiez has relied on word of mouth and publicity events such as its annual Couch Tour rather than traditional ads. Sooner or later, customers find the stores, he said.

“There are just cycles of mall traffic that you have to get through” before a new store sees business stabilize, Brooks said.

Sara Hasan, an analyst with Seattle’s McAdams Wright Ragen, said Zumiez is excellent at marketing itself to its customers, most of which are under 25 years old, without traditional advertising.

“The more they try to stay undercover or inconspicuous, the better,” she said. “It keeps them more authentic.”

Brooks said the company remains on track to open 31 more stores by the end of the year.

Zumiez shares ended trading Wednesday at $41.80, up 37 cents, close to the stock’s all-time high. With a market value of nearly $1.2 billion, Zumiez has grown into the second-largest public company based in Snohomish County.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or fetters@heraldnet.com.

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