US discount retailer Kmart has reported a narrower quarterly net loss, and said same-store sales fell 8.6% in the third quarter.

The company posted a net loss of US$23m for the third-quarter to 29 October, compared with a loss of $383m a year earlier.

Loss before interest, reorganisation items, income taxes and discontinued operations was $10m for the third quarter, versus a loss of $328m in the same period a year ago.

Net sales were $5.1bn, a decrease of 21.2% from $6.5bn a year ago. On a same-store basis, sales declined 8.6% for the third quarter. The decrease in same-store sales is due primarily to the year-over-year comparison with several company-wide promotional events that were taking place a year ago, and the reduction in the frequency of mid- week advertising circulars in the current year, Kmart said.

The company attributed the fall in total sales to the decrease in same-store sales and the closure of 316 stores during the first quarter of fiscal 2003.

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“We continue to actively manage our business in a disciplined fashion steadily increasing our margin realisation, reducing operating costs, enhancing the productivity of our assets and improving the overall store experience for our customers. Our focus on profitable sales and a consequent reduction in losses from clearance sales and promotional events resulted in a decrease in same-store sales in the third quarter. The actions we have taken to drive profitability contributed to a mid-teens decline in November same-store sales, but allowed us to operate the company profitably in November 2003,” said Julian C. Day, president and CEO.