Academy Anticipates Key Segment Rebounds in 2021

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Footwear, along with licensed apparel, team sports equipment and apparel were four segments that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at Katy, TX-based retail chain Academy Sports + Outdoors. Each “should return to normal this year,” Academy CFO Michael Mullican told analysts last week, and be margin accretive. During Q4, the retailer experienced a low double-digit comp in apparel, thanks a strong inventory position in branded fleece, and a similar comp trend in footwear.

The 259-door retailer drove a 16.1 percent comp with “pure promotions, higher average unit retails and an increase in regular price sellthroughs. As a result, ASO finished the fiscal year with approximately half the level of clearance inventory level from the year prior and a 420 basis point, year-over-year improvement in gross margin. Ship-to-store capability allowed for better target inventory demand through the holding of inventory in warehouse ahead of sending it out to the store where the customer made the purchase.

Academy Sports + Outdoors is currently forecasting a comparable sales range of -2 percent to +2 percent for 2021, which would represent a 14-18 percent increase over a two-year period. The retailer intends to remodel more than 30 locations this year before returning to new store openings in FY22.

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