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HOUSTON-The Men’s Wearhouse posted higher sales and earnings for the third quarter ended Nov. 3, boosted in part by tuxedo rentals, but US comparable store sales decreased, company officials reported Wednesday. The dip in comp sales resulted from weaker traffic and a lower average ticket at the chain’s K&G Group stores, a slide attributed in part to the slowing economy, but Men’s Wearhouse chairman and CEO George Zimmer commented that the company has seen downturns before and has weathered them well.

“Having managed through six economic slowdowns since our inception in 1973, the Men’s Wearhouse is prepared to manage now,” Zimmer said in the company’s conference call with financial analysts. “Managing through macroeconomic uncertainty is not something that we as a company are unfamiliar with,” Zimmer said. He added, “Economic uncertainty, in fact, encourages industry consolidation, which we have benefited from in the past.”

Men’s Wearhouse reported earnings of $37.1 million and 69 cents per share versus $31.8 million and 58 cents per share for the third quarter last year. Total company sales increased 19.1% for the quarter to $512.1 million, with comparable store sales decreasing 2.1% for the company’s US-based stores. The slide in comp store sales came in below expectations of flat to slightly higher comps that the chain had forecast.

The Men’s Wearhouse expanded considerably this year with its acquisition in April of After Hours Formalwear Inc., operator of 509 After Hours Formalwear and Mr. Tux store fronts. Zimmer said that Men’s Wearhouse has completed most of the major steps involved in merging the After Hours locations with the Men’s Wearhouse operations, so that, beginning in January, “We will emerge under a unified brand that we will deliver through more than 1,000 store fronts.”

Zimmer said that Men’s Wearhouse “has more work to do to fully realize the potential inherent in our K&G operations,” which represents approximately 20% of the company’s consolidated sales. “Macro-economic conditions played a significant part” in K&G’s performance, but Men’s Wearhouse is nonetheless “evaluating tactical measures” to improve performance at K&G. The Men’s Wearhouse CEO noted that the company’s core operation of the Men’s Wearhouse and its counterpart in Canada both enjoy No. 1 market share in suits in their countries, and both are tallying positive comps year-to-date.

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