Neiman Marcus CEO: High end shopping with confidence

Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:38pm EST

A man sleeps on a couch outside of a Neiman Marcus store at South Park mall in Charlotte, North Carolina November 25, 2011.  REUTERS/Chris Keane

A man sleeps on a couch outside of a Neiman Marcus store at South Park mall in Charlotte, North Carolina November 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane

(Reuters) - Neiman Marcus Group Inc NMRCUS.UL reported a higher quarterly profit on 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," Katz said. But, she said, high end jewelry sales were a standout during the quarter, showing "that the most affluent luxury customer is spending with confidence."

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

Rival chains Saks Inc SKS.N and Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N)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 October 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 percent at stores open for at least a year and online.

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

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Carol Bishopric)

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