West Marine, Inc. reported pre-tax loss for the first quarter ended April 3, 2010 was $8.9 million, a $6.5 million improvement over a pre-tax loss of $15.4 million last year. Net loss was 40 cents per share, as compared to a 71 cents net loss per share last year.
Gross profit for the 13 weeks ended April 3, 2010 was $25.6 million, an increase of $3.7 million compared to 2009. As a percentage of net revenues, gross profit increased by 1.7% to 23.4% compared to gross profit of 21.7% last year. The increase in gross profit as a percentage of revenues primarily resulted from lower occupancy expenses, which leveraged on the higher sales, improved inventory shrinkage results and slightly higher product margins.
SG&A expense for the quarter was $34.5 million, a decrease of $2.4 million, or 6.4%, compared to $36.9 million for the same period last year. As a percentage of revenues, SG&A decreased by 5.0% to 31.5%. The expense savings included a reduction in benefits expense and a favorable foreign currency impact realized this year versus last year.
Income taxes for the quarter were a provision of $0.1 million compared to $0.4 million for last year. Both years reflect the impact of a full valuation allowance against our net deferred tax assets.
Inventory levels at the end of the quarter decreased by $14.9 million, or 5.8%, reflecting a 4.8% decrease on a per-square-footage basis. Additionally, in-stock rates have been maintained at our internal target levels.
At the end of the quarter, short-term debt was $39.1 million. Total debt decreased by $36.7 million, or 48.4%, from this time last year.
As we mentioned previously, we believe our sales growth was driven by a number of factors, both external and internal. These factors included a recovery in demand for our bigger-ticket items, such as boats, motors and electronics, and strong pre-season purchases of maintenance-related products, which gives an early indication of boat usage in the key late spring and summer months. We believe we are benefitting from changes in the competitive landscape, and we also got a boost from favorable weather conditions in the Northeast. With all of these changes, our strategic decision to bring core goods in earlier in the season and in greater quantity has served us well.
The impact of this robust sales growth is combining with our ongoing efforts to control expenses, allowing us to deliver a significant bottom-line impact. We continue to focus on supply chain, and have been able to maintain in-stock levels even with the increase in Customer demand. I want to express my sincere thanks to the West Marine team for their impressive performance.”