Despite warm winter weather and severe drought conditions across several states, La Cañada Flintridge-based Sport Chalet announced a $1.5 million in net income during its third quarter on Monday, the most profitable the retailer's seen since 2007.
The news marks a turnaround from the $1.9 million net loss the company reported in the same quarter last year. Leaders are hopeful the upswing will continue, despite the continuance of high temperatures into the fourth quarter.
"Fortunately, or unfortunately, our team at Sport Chalet has encountered poor winter conditions before. We know exactly what to do," Craig Levra, the company's chairman and chief executive said in a news conference Monday. "We also know that a lack of snow doesn't keep our athletes and our customers from being active. They don't suddenly become couch potatoes — they tune up their bikes, they go hiking, fishing and running."
Still, overall sales were down 2.4%, from $97.6 million in last year's third quarter, to $95.3 million. Executives cite the closure of three underperforming stores, which had contributed about $2.4 million in sales, and several personnel changes in the Team Sales Division for the loss.
Levra attributed the quarter's gains to several strategic initiatives, chief among them a burgeoning online presence that saw Internet sales increase 22% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nearly half of all online sales occurred outside the four states — California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada — where Sport Chalet operates brick and mortar stores.
"Considering we are a small regional player, that (we) can do that well online across the country speaks to the power of the Sport Chalet brand, our online team and our technology," Levra said.
The local firm recently became the exclusive supplier to California State University at Northridge's intercollegiate athletics program, signing an "all-school" contract that, according to Levra, brings the retailer's total to 28.
Customers can also now sign up for a Sport Chalet MasterCard, due to a deal cut in November with First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha. Membership automatically enrolls cardholders in the Action Pass rewards program.
"The lack of snow and cold temperatures does not cloud the future of what this company is capable of doing. We believe we are well-positioned to succeed in 2014 and beyond," Levra said.
SARA CARDINE is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.