ST. LOUIS-Bakers Footwear Group Inc. executives say that the company’s fourth quarter is starting off much better, after just coming of a tremendous slide in its third quarter, it reported Tuesday. The company’s comp store sales dropped 16.6% in the third quarter, compared with Q3 2006, and it reported a net loss of $15.3 million, or $2.35 per share.

Peter Edison, chairman and CEO, blamed the company’s troubles on an aggressive pricing for clearance of sandals, as well as unseasonably warm weather in the third quarter that held off boot sales. However, Edison said during a conference call that the fourth quarter is already tacking better, with same-store sales down only 1.4%. “The big driver for the fourth quarter is boots,” he said. “(Boots) represent about 50% of our sales and this year is no different.”

The company, a mall-based retailer which specializes in shoes for women ages 16 to 35 years old, is also slowing down its new-store count. With more than 250 stores, the firm will not open any more locations this year, and plans only two to four new stores and four remodels for 2008. The company also recently sold an operating lease for $5 million to help reduce debt. “We believe we have addressed the issues that negatively affected our recent results,” Edison said.

Also, CFO Lawrence Spanley Jr. said he plans to retire effective in February. The company has promoted Charles Daniel III to the position of VP-finance.

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