1-800-Flowers.com sales up in 1st quarter

Store manager Lauren Ceglio wraps a floral arrangement

Store manager Lauren Ceglio wraps a floral arrangement at the 1-800-Flowers headquarters in Carle Place Tuesday. The company says sales have been driven by its gourmet food and gift baskets division and its BloomNet business, which provides services to florists, 1-800 Flowers said. (Oct. 29, 2013) (Credit: Barry Sloan)

Sales for 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. increased and its loss widened slightly during the first quarter, a period without any major gift-giving holidays, the Carle Place-based florist and gift retailer reported Tuesday.

The company's gourmet food and gift basket segment and its BloomNet service for florists both drove sales growth, helping to boost revenues to $123 million during the quarter, which ended Sept. 29. Sales increased 2.9 percent from the same period last year.

The company posted a loss of $4.64 million, which was slightly wider than the $4.61-million loss it reported the previous year. The company's operating expense ratio rose. The net loss from continuing operations, at $4.5 million, was unchanged from a year earlier.

Shares of the company's stock fell 59 cents, closing at $5.14.

"We saw a continuation in the rebound in our mass market gift baskets business with both increased order volumes and an expanding customer base," chief executive Jim McCann said in a statement.

Sales in 1-800-Flowers.com's gourmet food and gift basket segment rose 15.1 percent to $31.2 million. Increased gift basket shipments combined with e-commerce growth in the company's specialty food brands such as Fannie May, Cheryl's and The Popcorn Factory played a main role in lifting revenues in this segment, 1-800-Flowers.com said.

Sales for its BloomNet wire service business, which provides services and products to florists, also increased 2.9 percent to $20.3 million.

Sales fell 1.7 percent in the consumer floral segment, to $71.6 million.

Though the summer months represent the company's smallest sales period of the year, its workforce has been busy planning for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, company executives noted during a conference call with analysts Tuesday. The company's holiday marketing plans are not reliant on the economic environment's improving, McCann said. Instead, it has prepared an "array of options, depending on how the consumer responds."

"As we head into the key holiday season, we are cognizant of the challenges and distractions facing consumers," McCann said, "including the destructional antics in our nation's capital and the continued uneven economic landscape."

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