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The Journal Gazette

  • Wallstrom

Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:00 am

Vera Bradley profits steady

Team, culture cited for results in plan's 1st year

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Sales were slightly lower, but Vera Bradley Inc. kept its profits steady during fiscal 2019, which ended Feb. 2.

The company on Wednesday reported annual earnings of $20.8 million, or 59 cents per diluted share, almost three times the $7.0 million, or 19 cents a share, reported for fiscal 2018, which ended Feb. 3, 2018.

But after-tax charges taken during fiscal 2018 lowered that year's earnings by more than $14 million. The company's profit without those expenses would have been $21.5 million – or $700,000 more than the most recent fiscal year, officials said.

Annual net revenues for fiscal 2019, were $416 million, an 8 percent decline from the previous year.

The Fort Wayne-based maker of women's handbags, luggage and accessories also reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $8.6 million, or 25 cents per diluted share, slightly higher than the $8.5 million, or 24 cents a share, reported for the same three months of the prior period.

Rob Wallstrom, Vera Bradley's CEO, said in a statement that he was pleased with the results.

Fiscal 2019 was the first full year of the company's three-year strategic plan, Vision 20/20. Among the focus areas were reducing clearance sales, lowering administrative costs and holding onto existing customers. The company made progress on all fronts, Wallstrom said.

Accomplishments include reducing production reliance on China, increasing predictability and consistency in products' patterns and assortment, and giving customers the option to order customized products with a personalized label.

Vera Bradley also opened six new factory stores and closed 10 under-performing full-line stores during the year. 

“What I am probably most proud of, though, is our team and culture,” Wallstrom said. “Going through the last 18 months would put significant strain on any organization. Yet, we have seen our team come together as a more united and empowered organization that is not only maintaining, but strengthening, our extraordinary culture as we return our brand and company to a healthy foundation and begin to return to growth.”