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Lifetime Brands loss widens as sales slump

Lifetime Brands chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Siegel

Lifetime Brands chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Siegel in the company's Garden City showroom in Dec. 2010. Credit: Danny Ghitis

Garden City-based Lifetime Brands Inc. reported Tuesday that its loss widened as sales fell during the first three months of the year.

The maker of branded kitchenware, tableware and other home products said its net loss for the first quarter was $4.29 million, more than double its $2.1 million loss a year earlier. The loss from operations was $5.2 million, compared with $2.2 million in the first quarter of 2015.

Its consolidated net sales were $110.9 million, down 5.7 percent year over year. In constant currency, which excludes the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, the annual decline was 4.8 percent.

The diluted loss per common share was 31 cents in the first quarter, up from 15 cents a year earlier.

“The sales decrease in the quarter primarily was attributable to an inventory rationalization strategy at a major U.S. retailer,” Jeffrey Siegel, Lifetime’s chairman and chief executive, said in a news release. That change “had an unfavorable impact in the quarter,” Siegel said. However, he said, “for the full year, we expect to be a net beneficiary based on an expansion of our assortment and increased store count.”

The company said its Farberware Colourworks line of brightly colored kitchenware is selling well, and it reported encouraging initial shipments of its new knives that can be sharpened each time they are removed from their holders.

Lifetime has hired a major international consulting firm “to make certain that we have the right structure to grow and prosper in today’s evolving retail market,” the company said in a statement.

For 2016, the company expects its consolidated net sales to increase by about 3 percent, not including the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, and its gross margin to grow by half a percentage point.

Shares of Lifetime fell 41 cents Tuesday to close at $17.03. They are up about 15 percent in the past 12 months.

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