The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 10, 2021 1:00 am

Vera Bradley revenues up, loss declines

Debt-free company optimistic

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Vera Bradley Inc. on Wednesday reported a 57% jump in first fiscal quarter revenues as pandemic-fatigued consumers opened their pocketbooks to buy more handbags, luggage and accessories.

Even so, the Fort Wayne-based manufacturer experienced a loss for the 13-week period ended May 1.

Vera Bradley reported a first-quarter loss of $2.1 million, or 6 cents per diluted common share, a $13 million improvement from the loss of $15.3 million, or 66 cents a share, reported for the same period last year.

CEO Rob Wallstrom noted the company's performance beat revenue and earnings expectations.

“Consumer confidence, traffic, and spending grew as vaccines became more widely available; government stimulus funds were distributed; and customers began returning to work, social events, and travel,” he said in a statement. “We expanded our consolidated gross margin rate and prudently managed our expenses.”

The company's balance sheet shows more than $51 million in cash and cash equivalents, and no long-term debt.

Vera Bradley's first quarter last year included store shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic. Also, leadership cut expenses by temporarily furloughing about 80% of its workforce and temporarily reducing base compensation for remaining salaried workers ranging from 15% to 30%, and 75% for the CEO.

The company's stock reflects its comeback. Vera Bradley share prices have increased by 70% since the beginning of the year and 89% in the last 12 months. 

Wallstrom said his priorities remain unchanged. 

“As a reminder, our enterprise's forward-looking strategy is to be a purpose-driven, multi-lifestyle brand, high-growth company,” he said. “Our strong cash position, debt-free balance sheet, and ability to generate free cash flow will allow us to continue to invest in both our Vera Bradley and Pura Vida brands and seek out appropriate acquisitions of other comfortable, affordable, purpose-driven, digitally native brands, similar to our successful Pura Vida acquisition, over time.”

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