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Neiman Marcus profits rise as affluent customers spend "with confidence"

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus posted net income of $48.4-million (U.S.) for the quarter ended Oct. 29, nearly double that of a year ago.

JOHN GRESS/REUTERS

Neiman Marcus Group Inc. reported a higher quarterly profit Monday as high-end shoppers proved more willing to pay full price for the luxury retailer's expensive designer dresses, shoes and handbags.

Despite the gyrations in the financial markets in recent months that has threatened well-heeled shoppers' net worth, chief executive Karen Katz has not seen any pullback.

"We do remain concerned with the broader economy and its effects on our customer," Ms. Katz said. But, she added, high-end jewellery sales were a standout during the quarter, showing "that the most affluent luxury customer is spending with confidence."

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To prove her point, Ms. Katz reported that Neiman quickly sold many of the outlandishly expensive "fantasy" gifts it offered in its annual Christmas book, including a $125,000 (U.S.) custom-built library from luxury book publisher Assouline.

Rival chains Saks and Nordstrom Inc. have similarly reported strong sales gains in recent months.

Earlier this month, Saks said it expects its same-store sales to be up by a "mid-to-high single-digit" percentage rate in the final quarter that includes the Christmas season.

Neiman, a privately held operator of a namesake chain of upscale department stores and outlets and of Bergdorf Goodman, posted net income of $48.4-million for the fiscal first quarter, which ended Oct. 29, nearly double the $25.7-million of a year earlier.

Neiman's revenue in the quarter rose to $1-billion from $927.2-million a year ago, helped by comparable sales gains, of 8 per cent at stores open for at least a year and online.

Ms. Katz said there has been no need to offer more discounts last quarter than in the year-earlier period.

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