Travis Boats’ comparable store sales down 21 percent

AUSTIN, Texas – Marine retailer Travis Boats & Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRVS) saw its comparable store sales decline 21 percent during the first quarter of fiscal 2004 ended December 31, it reported in a statement today. Travis had 30 and 34 stores in operation on December 31, 2003 and 2002, respectively.

Excluding the impact of the sale of yachts and offshore fishing boats, comparable store sales declined by approximately 1.6 percent, Travis reported.

The company said comparable store sales were primarily impacted by product and brand transition, including the previously announced elimination of the company’s yacht sales.

Additionally, during the fall of 2003, Travis began the introduction of new models of offshore fishing boats to replace its previously carried comparable product line. The company said its significant initial stocking requirements contributed to only a limited assortment and selection of the new boats being received by the company during the quarter.

The impact to net sales of yachts and off-shore fishing boats from these and other related issues was a decrease of approximately $3.3 million in sales for the quarter ended December 31 versus the same quarter of the prior fiscal year, Travis reported.

“A key goal for the company has been the consolidation of our vendor relationships to improve inventory turns, assortments and product consistency in our stores,” said Mark Walton, president. “The goals have resulted in a solidified assortment and we look forward to filling the pipeline and selling these exciting new products.”

Pre-tax loss declines

Travis reported it had a pre-tax loss of approximately $4.0 million on net sales of $13.3 million for the three-month period versus a pre-tax loss of approximately $5.4 million on net sales of $17.9 million for the same quarter of the prior fiscal year. The company, after preferred stock dividends, reported a net loss of $4.1 million. Comparatively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2002, Travis, after inclusion of an income tax benefit of $1.8 million and preferred stock dividends, reported a net loss of $3.7 million.

“Our team has worked hard over the last 6 months and has made significant progress in expense control, operations and in preparing for the upcoming sales period,” said Richard Birnbaum, chairman of Travis Boats. “Merchandising initiatives including vendor consolidation, reductions in obsolete inventory and improved supply chain will have a long-term positive impact on our performance. Ultimately, these results must include improving sales by having the right boat selection at each store, having well trained, knowledgeable associates and providing an exceptional customer shopping experience.”

Travis also said it has received notice that the maturity of its inventory borrowing agreements had been approved to be renewed from October 30, 2003 through October 31, 2004. The borrowing agreements have seasonally adjusted combined maximum borrowing limits ranging from a seasonal peak of $60.0 million to a seasonal low of $42.5 million, according to Travis.

In addition, Travis has entered into a new $5.3 million real estate loan that fully repaid all of the company’s prior real estate debt with Hibernia National Bank. The financing package provides the company with appropriate documentation to allow for continuing its announced strategy of selectively marketing certain store locations in sale/leaseback transactions. The company says it currently has several properties in preliminary due-diligence and feasibility discussion stages of sale/leaseback proposals with investors.

Travis Boats & Motors, Inc. operates 30 store locations in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida under the name Travis Boating Center.

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