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DALLAS–With an eye to controlling expenses in a difficult environment, Neiman Marcus Group will cease expansion of its new Cusp format for the rest of the 2009 fiscal year, executives said at the company’s first-quarter conference call.

Originally planning to open between four to six Cusp stores this year, the company now will not expand beyond the two stores already opened in the quarter. However, management is maintaining planned openings for its namesake Neiman Marcus stores, although on a lengthier schedule.

“We have six full-line stores on the schedule,” said Burton M. Tansky, president and CEO. “That has not changed, but in same cases [the opening dates have] shifted.”

Neiman Marcus stores will open in Bellevue, WA; Walnut Creek, CA; Sarasota, FL; San Jose, CA; and Princeton, NJ, through fall 2013. Tansky did not give a specific date for a scheduled unit in Oyster Bay, NY.

Cusp, which is geared to a younger customer, recently opened its sixth unit at Water Tower Place, in Chicago. Though the company “remains very optimistic about its prospects,” Tansky said, it has ceased expansion for 2009 and early 2010, and will reevaluate 2010 plans later in the fiscal year.

For the quarter, the company reported total revenues of $986 million, compared to $1.13 billion in the prior year. Comparable revenues decreased 14.5%. Operating earnings for the first quarter of fiscal year 2009 were $81.6 million compared to $189.7 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2008. Adjusted operating earnings were $81.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2009 compared to $157.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2008.

“This reflects a weakness of both our aspirational shopper and the loyal customer,” Tansky said. “We believe the loyal customer still has the ability to shop with us. Though she may have reduced her spend, we believe she will return to a much more normal pattern of shopping.”

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