Beleaguered US convenience store operator Kmart said it lost US$3.22bn during the fiscal year to 29 January, compared to a loss of $2.45bn in the previous year.

Same-store sales fell 10.1% in 2002, while revenue fell 15% to $30.76bn.

Kmart said, however, that its recent performance had been more positive. For its fiscal fourth quarter, Kmart narrowed its net loss to $1.10bn, from a loss of $1.65bn a year earlier.

Net sales for the quarter, however, fell to $8.87bn from $10.88bn in 2001, while same-store sales fell 9.8% year-on-year.

“It is sad to say but true that we disappointed a number of customers, and many as yet have not resumed shopping in our stores,” president and chief executive Julian Day was quoted by Dow Jones News as saying.

Day added that the narrowed fourth-quarter loss, together with the latest February results, is relatively encouraging. Kmart’s February same-store sales were down 2.5%, compared to the 10.8% drop reported for February last year. The company’s net loss in February was $54m on revenue of £2.7bn.

“No one is saying the company is fixed, but in the first month of the (fiscal) year, we’re seeing some early signs of progress on controlling costs and improving gross margin,” Day said. “We’re cautiously optimistic as the February results start to hint at this progress.”