1-800 FLOWERS.COM's (FLWS) CEO Jim McCann on Q3 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: 1-800 FLOWERS.COM, (FLWS)

1-800 FLOWERS.COM, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLWS)

Q3 2016 Earnings Conference Call

April 26, 2016 11:00 ET

Executives

Joseph Pititto - Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Jim McCann - Chief Executive Officer

Chris McCann - President

Bill Shea - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Jeff Stein - North Coast Research

Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial

Linda Bolton-Weiser - B Riley

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

Operator

Good day and welcome to the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Incorporated Fiscal 2016 Third Quarter Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Joseph Pititto, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Joseph Pititto

Thank you, Allison. Good morning and thank you all for joining us today to discuss 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc.’s financial results for our fiscal 2016 third quarter. For those of you who have not yet received a copy of our press release issued earlier this morning, the release can be accessed with the Investor Relations section of our website at investor.1-800-flowers.com. Our call today will begin with brief and formal remarks and then we will open up the call to your questions. Presenting today will be Jim McCann, CEO; Chris McCann, President; and Bill Shea, CFO.

Before we begin, I need to remind everyone that a number of the statements that we will make today maybe forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the applicable statements. For a detailed description of these risks and uncertainties, please refer to our press release issued this morning as well as our SEC filings, including the company’s annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

In addition, this morning, we will discuss certain supplemental financial measures that were not prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures can be found in the tables accompanying the company’s press release issued this morning. Company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements made in today’s call, any recordings of today’s call, the press release issued earlier today or any of its SEC filings, except as maybe otherwise stated by the company.

I will now turn the call over to Jim McCann.

Jim McCann

Good morning. We are pleased to report solid results for our fiscal third quarter, particularly in light of some of the headwinds we faced leading into the period. Most notably, in our floral business, both the Consumer Floral and BloomNet segments performed well despite the impact of the Sunday placement of the Valentine holiday, which typically has a significant impact on demand. Even with this expected headwind, we were able to drive better than expected revenues and increased both gross margins and bottom line contributions compared with last year. We did this by executing our plans to spend appropriately and effectively on marketing and merchandising programs and engage our customers and continue to set us apart as a leading floral brand in this category. In Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets, we achieved revenue growth of nearly 7% during what is seasonally a slower period for gourmet gifts.

Let me give you a little bit more context here. Our Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets business is highly seasonal, with our fiscal second quarter accounting for nearly 65% of its annual revenues and all of its annual profits. While the seasonality results and losses in the periods outside of the big holiday quarter, our strong growth in this area over the past several years, including the addition of Harry & David, has significantly increased both our total annual revenues and total annual bottom line metrics of EBITDA, EPS and free cash flow. Simply put, we are much larger and much more profitable company than we were only a few short years ago.

By expanding our product offering and creating an all-star lineup of iconic gift brands, we are uniquely positioned to soft from more of our customers gifting and celebratory needs and thereby enhance our top and bottom line growth in the years ahead. The growth we achieved in the seasonally slower third quarter reflects solid performance in our Cheryl’s and 1-800-Baskets brands as well as in Harry & David, which is up more than 3% net to the first 9 months of this year. We are very pleased with the benefits we driving across our platform related to the integration of Harry & David and we continue to be excited by the opportunities we see to further improve its growth rate in the years ahead. Executing on one of these opportunities earlier this month, we completed the move of Harry & David along with Wolferman’s and Stock Yards brands onto our multi-brand website. We believe this will significantly enhance our cross merchandising and marketing capabilities and help accelerate growth for all of our businesses across the platform. I will ask Chris to provide additional details on his multi-brand initiatives in his remarks in a few minutes.

As I said, we continue to make good progress in terms of laying the groundwork to become the leading player in the gourmet food gift space. However, during the third quarter, our top and bottom line results in this segment were impacted by the underperformance of our Fannie May brand. Fannie May’s business has not yet bounced back to the strong performance it had been showing prior to the fire that destroyed its warehouse and distribution center a year ago this past Thanksgiving Day. We have put in place a number of initiatives in both marketing and merchandising that are designed to improve customer traffic to the Fannie May brand.

We are confident that Fannie May will be well-positioned to show significantly improved performance as we head into the key holiday season in fiscal 2017. Part of our DNA as a company is to listen to our customers and always be a leading innovator in terms of adopting new technologies that help us engage with our customers wherever and however they prefer. Recent announcements highlight this focus, including our partnering with Facebook to develop and deploy the first commerce bought on their messenger platform and today’s announcement of our partnering with Amazon is one of the external e-commerce brands on the Alexa platform. We were often told – we have often told during the past, innovation is a critical part of our business and we will continue to be at the forefront of technology to enhance the customer experience and help our customers connect and express themselves for all their celebratory occasions.

Before I turn the call over to Chris for him to elaborate on these announcements, I would like to highlight another recent announcement we made, this one regarding our long-term succession plan and Chris’ transition to the role of CEO. As I noted on our press release back in March, we served the succession plan many years ago and we did so with the goal of a seamless transition. Chris has been steering our company’s day-to-day operations as President since 2000 and his contribution as part of our leadership team has helped us grow past $1 billion in revenue and become our customers’ leading destination for all of their celebratory occasions. Having worked closely with him, I know there is no one better equipped to spearhead the continued growth and innovation of our company. The Board and I have every confidence in Chris and our very seasoned management team. We look forward to Chris assuming his expanded responsibilities at the end of the current fiscal year.

With that, I will now turn the call over to Chris.

Chris McCann

Thank you, Jim. One of the great deal working alongside Jim over the past 30-plus years as we have grown the business from one retail flower shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to today’s multi-brand omnichannel gifting leader. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that listening to our customers and always focusing on innovation to enhance their experience is vital to our growth and success. In a moment, I will cover the exciting announcements regarding Facebook Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa platform. But first, a few comments about our third quarter.

We were very pleased with the performance of our 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and BloomNet businesses, particularly in light of the Sunday Valentine’s Day headwind. During the quarter, we successfully executed our Valentine holiday plans to drive revenues while enhancing margins. Our efforts in these areas benefited from our focus on efficient marketing programs that emphasize customer engagement and customer satisfaction. Our truly original product designs including our exclusive local artisan program featuring the unique creativity of our BloomNet flowers. And the enhanced operating leverage that we continue to drive across our business platform. These results illustrate the expansion of the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM brand’s market leading position as well as BloomNet’s growing market position versus the legacy wire services. I think it is appropriate here to offer kudos to Tom Hartnett, President of the 1-800-FLOWERS brand and Mark Nance, President of BloomNet and their respective teams for the great planning and execution that drove our strong performance during the quarter. I am pleased to report that both businesses are well positioned to drive continued strong performance for the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday and into our next fiscal year.

In the Gourmet Food and Gift Basket segment, earlier this month we finalized the transition of Harry & David to the multi-brand website. I am happy to report that our website now also features Harry & David, Wolferman’s and Stock Yard brands with their own tabs on the site. Customers who previously navigated to those individual websites are now directed to the multi-branded site where they can discover our entire family of brand offerings. Importantly, we can now expose all of the customer traffic across all of our brands to our Celebrations suite of services, including Celebrations Passport, our free shipping program, Celebrations Rewards, our points based loyalty program, and Celebrations Reminders, helping our customers to remember all of their gifting occasions. These programs are designed to engage with our customers and deepen the relationships we have with them as their one-stop destination for all of their celebratory and gifting needs.

Our goal is to increase the number of customers who buy from multiple brands across our platform. While we are still early – in the early stages of rolling out these programs, we are excited by the results we are seeing in terms of enhanced retention, average spend and lifetime value when customers become multi-brand. Having all of our brands now on the same platform, it enhances our ability to market Celebrations Passport, Rewards and Reminders. And as we grow membership in these programs, we can begin to accelerate the growth of multi-brand customers.

With respect to our Fannie May brand, as Jim mentioned, the performance of this business has been impacted by the reduced customer traffic, particularly in our stores as well as some retail based wholesale customers. We know that some of this is related to customers not being able to find their traditional Fannie May products in the period after the warehouse fire that destroyed inventories. While we were made whole by our insurance carriers for the losses incurred due to the fire, demand levels have not yet bounced back to the strong same-store growth levels Fannie May was experiencing prior to the fire. We have put initiatives in place to enhance our online and local marketing, product innovation, package design and store merchandising all to enhance the results and to attract a greater traffic flow of customers. We are intensely focused on addressing the performance of Fannie May and we are confident that the initiatives we have in place will enable us to improve the traffic and overall performance as we head into the key holiday season of fiscal ‘17.

We are also confident that all of the brands in our all-star lineup will benefit from the key revenue synergies that I have mentioned to you in the past. These include our multi-brand customer strategy, which I just spoke about, business gift services, where we bring all of our iconic gift brands under one unified corporate sales structure; expansion in wholesale, including introducing Harry & David branded products to our mass channel customers where we are already seeing positive reception from our early presentations and the benefits we expect from having a consolidated customer database. We are excited by what we believe all these programs can offer in terms of deepening our customer relationships and accelerating growth.

We are also very excited by the announcements we have made earlier this month as well as this morning. As Jim mentioned, we are intensely focused and committed to being at the forefront of technological innovation and social trends that help shape consumer behavior. Adding to our list of industry first, we now have the launch of our commerce bought on Facebook Messenger platform and our integration as one of the first external commerce brands on the Amazon Alexa platform. Chat bots are fast becoming the preferred mode of communication for Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users. This new technology is advancing at such an incredible speed that many say – many are saying that bots are the new apps or soon will be. Bots are hot and we are thrilled to have been able to leverage our strong and longstanding relationship with Facebook to launch the first commerce bot on the Messenger platform.

On a personal level, I could tell you it was extremely gratifying to be sitting in the audience at the EFA conference 2 weeks ago alongside several other members of our team, when Mark Zuckerberg featured 1-800-FLOWERS.COM in his keynote address. It was a nice crowning moment for all the hard work that the team did to get us to that point. Beginning with the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM brand and is soon extending to all of our brands, our customers will be able to chat with customer service, through Messenger, as well as receive order and shipping information. And most important, placing the order to create a smile using our new bot technology.

We are also one of the first e-commerce companies to enable our customers to place orders via voice commands on Amazon’s Alexa. Our customers will now be able to get a smile delivered simply by saying, Alexa, send flowers from 1-800-Flowers. These relationships with Facebook and Amazon speak to their interest in having our great brands in their ecosystem. And of course, having our gifts available to a global community of connected customers is an extraordinary opportunity for us. Not surprisingly, every initiative, which I have outlined today, is based upon our laser focus on enhancing the customer experience. It also illustrates the skill of our internal teams who keep us on the forefront of technology innovations, which enable our customers to conduct business with us anytime on any device for any brand in our portfolio.

With that, I would like to turn the call over to Bill for some financial highlights.

Bill Shea

Good morning, everyone. I will touch upon the high level results for the quarter, address the performance of our business segments and then close with a discussion of our financial position and full year guidance. The increase in net revenues this period was driven by Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment, which recorded a year-over-year increase of 6.6%. As Jim mentioned, the consumer flow on BloomNet business segments were both ahead of our expectations given the impact of Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday.

So in total, revenue came in at more than $234 million. Gross profit margin for the quarter increased 30 basis points to 41.3% compared with 41% in the prior year period. This reflected strong margins in the Consumer Floral segment, which benefited from efficient marketing programs, our best ever customer satisfaction metrics and enhanced sourcing and logistics. Operating expenses improved 110 basis points to 46.9% of total net revenues compared with 48% in the prior year period as we continued to focus on rigorous cost control throughout our organization.

EBITDA excluding stock-based compensation, improved $2.8 million to a loss of $4 million compared with a loss of $6.8 million in the prior year period. The loss for the quarter improved slightly as compared with the prior year’s adjusted EBITDA loss of $4.1 million. The reduced EBITDA loss for the period reflects the strong performance in our consumer floral and BloomNet businesses, somewhat offset by the increased loss of our Gourmet Food and Gift Basket segment. Net income attributable to the company improved $1.6 million to a loss of $8.9 million or $0.14 per share compared with the loss of $10.5 million or $0.16 per share in the prior year period. On an adjusted basis, the prior year period’s net loss was $8.7 million or $0.13 per share.

Now, I will touch on some highlights of each of the three business segments as well as corporate expense. First, the Gourmet Food and Gift Basket segment, revenue in this segment rose 6.6% on a reported status and 2.9% on an adjusted basis. Gross margin for the quarter declined 120 basis points, primarily reflecting continued weak customer traffic in our Fannie May stores as well as higher promotional pricing programs. Segment contribution was a loss of $6.8 million. On an adjusted basis, the prior year loss was $4.5 million. The increase loss reflects the lower gross margin in the period and higher marketing expenses that were only partially offset by revenue growth.

In the Consumer Floral segment, revenues decreased 3%, reflecting the impact of the Sunday placement of the Valentine holiday, partially offset by the shift of the Easter holiday into the quarter. This performance significantly exceeded our expectations as we are able to largely mitigate the impact of the Sunday Valentine’s Day to effective marketing and merchandising programs. Aiding back to the impact of the two small non-core businesses that we sold earlier, Consumer Floral revenue for the quarter was flat compared with the prior year period.

Gross margin increased 140 basis points, reflecting the aforementioned benefits from enhanced sourcing and logistics and strong customer satisfaction metrics. As a result, category contribution margin increased $1.2 million to $13.7 million for the quarter. In BloomNet, revenues decreased 1.9%, reflecting the impact of the Sunday placement of the Valentine holiday. Gross margin for the quarter increased 20 basis points to 55%. Combined with enhanced operating cost leverage, category contribution margin increased $500,000 to $7.8 million for the quarter. Corporate expense of $20.4 million, which includes stock based compensation decreased $2.3 million compared with the prior year period, primarily due to the one-time integration costs incurred in the prior year. On an adjusted basis, corporate expense still declined $700,000 compared with the prior year period.

Now turning to our balance sheet, at the end of the – of our third quarter, our cash and investment position was $61.7 million. Our term debt balance was $121.1 million and we had zero borrowings outstanding under the working capital line within our revolving credit facility. And inventory at the end of the quarter was $95.4 million.

Regarding guidance, reflecting the results of the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company is reiterating its guidance for revenue growth and updating its guidance for bottom line results as follows. Consolidated revenue growth for the year in the range of 4% to 5% compared with revenues of $1.12 billion reported for fiscal 2015. EBITDA growth in the range of 5% to 7% and EPS growth in the range of 25% to 30% compared with pro forma fiscal 2015 adjusted EBITDA of $80.5 million and pro forma fiscal 2015 adjusted EPS of $0.33 per diluted share, respectively. As we noted last quarter, the company raised its expectation of synergy cost savings to $20 million over 3 years related to its integration of the Harry & David business. And today, we are also reiterating our guidance for free cash flow for the year of approximately $35 million.

I will now turn the call back to Jim for his wrap up.

Jim McCann

Thanks Bill. As you just heard, we have a lot of exciting things going on. We have new technology innovations. We have new partnerships and platforms, strong execution in our Consumer Floral and BloomNet businesses, continued progress on our Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment in terms of driving cost – operating cost synergies through the integration of our platform and new initiatives that we are just beginning to kick off after the multiple opportunities we see across all of the brands and businesses to accelerate revenue growth in the years ahead.

Our third quarter results illustrate how 1-800-Flowers brand continues to extend its market leadership while BloomNet continues to grow its market position. Our culture of experimentation and our history of industry first combined with great internal teams that we have assembled continues to set us apart as a leading innovator in the gifting space. As a company, we have always been willing to be disruptive of our own business. This has enabled us to stay ahead of the curve in terms of emerging technology and social trends so that we can better serve our customers. In Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets, we are building a company like no other with our all-star lineup of brands representing a uniquely broad product offering and an omni-channel approach designed to help our customers act on their thoughtfulness whenever and wherever it is convenient for them.

As we move into our fiscal fourth quarter, with the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day holidays, among our spring and summer occasions, we are focused on finishing up a solid year while laying the groundwork for a strong top and bottom line performance in fiscal 2017. Allison, would you please repeat the instructions for the Q&A portion of this call?

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And our first question will come from Jeff Stein of North Coast Research. Please go ahead.

Jeff Stein

Okay. Good morning guys. Couple of questions. First of all, Chris, I am wondering if you could talk a little bit about some of the new things that you are testing to try to drive cross-brand penetration that’s referring primarily to dynamic pricing and checkout and what kind of the tax rates early on you are seeing there for Passport? And is it the kind of – are you getting the results that you expected? Thank you.

Chris McCann

Yes. So I think, overall, Jeff, we continue to see traction with everything that we are testing some better than others. And again, it’s so early to be able to project, we are happy with the progress that we are making as I stated in my formal remarks. Some things test better than others of course and we are not getting into breaking out each component. But specifically, as you are referring to kind of show dynamic pricing, that’s something that we are testing very early stages still, only a couple of weeks in, so hard to really comment on something like that, but with all of the programs to drive membership in rewards, membership in Passport. And then more importantly, I think or equally as important is now having the Harry & David, Stock Yards and Wolferman’s tabs on the site really gives us a whole new traffic base to work with and introduce those customers to the multi-brand platform. So, we are pretty excited that we are now all on that one platform and can leverage all of these different marketing components.

Jeff Stein

Wondering if you could talk a little bit about some of the initiatives that you are working on at Fannie May and what your expectation is when you might begin to see some year-on-year improvement in results there? In other words, where are you with the initiatives, have they been launched yet?

Chris McCann

So, I think a couple of the initiatives have been launched. And quite frankly, with Fannie May, some of these things were beginning prior to the fire. And then it was even accelerated due to the fire and that was some new product innovation, some new package designs. I think we are very happy with what we are seeing, but when you make a new switch like that, I think it takes time. And what we are learning is it’s taking a little longer to resonate with the customer base than anticipated. So, again, probably some things that were in plan but accelerated when we had to rebuild inventory as well after the fire. In addition, working on our community-based marketing programs and bringing people into the stores, running classes and programs in the stores, going after catering business, trying to get chocolate as wedding favors and things like that. We are getting some good traction on. So, we are really kind of building that customer engagement from the store out. And it really always starts with the product making sure that we have the traditional products that our customers are looking for, which we think is taking longer than expected when they weren’t able to find those traditional flavors and products for a while following the fire as well as new product innovations.

Jim McCann

I think I would round that out a little bit. Jeff, this is Jim. We did come back some from the fire that is, if you look at it, we had many months, including last Valentine’s Day and last Easter where we didn’t have the packaging or inventory that we would have liked for those seasons as a result of the fire. So we came back about halfway to what the norm was and we would expect – we expected to come back all the way in the first year and we did it. I think it will take us into the holiday selling period, the fall, September, October, November, before you see the fruits of the a programs that we are putting in place now that Chris just mentioned. Now that we are fully inventoried again, we have all our packaging, our traditional products and our new products, our innovative products. I think we are happy that they are in place now. But I think in reality, based on the sales levels over the course of the summer time, it will be the fall before you see those programs really start to bear fruit.

Jeff Stein

Great. And one quick one for Bill, Bill I noticed that your inventories at the end of the quarter were up about 16% year-on-year, I am wondering what might have accounted for that and are inventories in line with your expectations?

Bill Shea

Yes. Jeff, I think we started to talk a little bit about at the end of the second quarter some of the issues that we are facing with – some of the headwinds we are facing with regard to kind of seasonal workforces and hiring of the hourly kind of employee base that we have. So, we have initiatives in place to kind of buy and build inventory a little earlier this year certainly for next holiday season to start it in this fiscal year and then for them got to pull everything back for everyday occasions, to pull it forward a little bit. So inventory is going to be a little higher than we originally planned that will put less pressure on the seasonal workforce and the productions that we have as we start heading into next fiscal year.

Jeff Stein

Got it, okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question will come from Michael Kupinski of Noble Financial. Please go ahead.

Michael Kupinski

Thank you and good morning. I believe at one point, Harry & David had as much as $100 million in revenue from the wholesale channel, which declined I think you said to about $28 million, what was the reason for the decline and I know that the company is planning on pushing on wholesale revenues for Harry & David, how much of the $100 million in revenues do you anticipate you can achieve and in what timeframe is that achievable. And then finally, what would be the gross margins in that channel?

Bill Shea

I will tackle the first part of that question, I don’t think…

Michael Kupinski

We came through…

Chris McCann

You were saying that at one-time $100 million in the wholesale channel at Harry & David, but no, that’s incorrect. So the wholesale revenue at Harry & David is in the 20s. And it is clearly an area we have identified as a growth opportunity for us. And we will be going after that. And as I mentioned based on some of our early presentations we are getting some good reception, some good traction in this early sales cycle right now. Margin will differ a little bit as we expand into the wholesale channel. Different channels carry a different margin. Bill, do you want to expand on that a little bit?

Bill Shea

Yes. So the mass channel has traditionally a – and the big box stores have traditionally lower margin than some of the other channels. As we move into the various components, whether it would be food, drug and mass, department store or the big box players that can influence margins. But margins are lower than e-commerce or retail.

Jim McCann

But it speaks to, Mike, the things that Jeff was talking about relative to inventory and labor. When you have – even though it’s a very small business where we have third party sales through wholesale like that, it gives us an opportunity to balance workforce better, it gives us an opportunity to buy better, gives us an opportunity to smooth out our manufacturing cycles. And the final and most important benefit is it exposes our brands to a broader set of customers and a marketing environment that frankly we don’t have to pay for. So those lower margins are appropriate and something we are very comfortable with.

Michael Kupinski

Thanks for the clarification. I guess the question would – roughly in the $20 million range or whatever for wholesale – for the wholesale channel, was that growing prior to you owning Harry & David?

Jim McCann

No, it hadn’t been growing for some years. Harry & David itself hadn’t grown in probably a dozen years. And now we have 2 years of growth. So, like we have seen in this third quarter, the GFGB group has continued – our Gift Food and Gift Basket group has continued to grow and do well. Harry & David now is 2 years of growth, which we are very pleased with. So, the trend lines are in good shape. And the only place that we struggle that we want to put their appropriate transparency on it was the only area of GFGB, our gift food business that didn’t do well this quarter was Fannie May Chocolates. But Harry & David continue to grow. And again, the wholesale piece had a very small contributor.

Michael Kupinski

Got it. Okay. And then on the marketing spend, which was a little higher than expected, was that all due to Fannie May or is there other components in there that caused that to be higher?

Bill Shea

Yes, that was within the food group itself. So, Fannie May was a piece of it, but it was also with respect to Harry & David and the other food brands.

Michael Kupinski

Okay. And can you give us some thoughts on how long you anticipate the elevated marketing spend for Fannie May? And I guess when you are budgeting the marketing spend, how do you look at that as a percent of revenues or how do you budget the marketing spend?

Jim McCann

It really is in the percent of revenue, Mike. We look at it on a brand by brand basis wherever you are going to get the best return off for your dollar. Harry & David is a brand that has a heavy direct marketing component to it. So, it’s kind of a fixed cost. We are always evaluating the shift in that cost from say catalog production to social media. So, that’s a trend we look at it on a longer term basis, particularly with our larger spending brand like Harry & David. In Cheryl’s, where we have seen outsized growth over the last several years, we have had a more modest increase on our spending because we have such a good mine – vein rather of good direct marketing opportunities that are less expensive to pursue. Fannie May, you will see us have an accelerated spend that you saw last quarter to the next couple of quarters to return to its solid same-store sales growth that we saw leading right up to the fire.

Michael Kupinski

So kind of like the run-rate that we saw in the last quarter we should expect for the next couple of quarters, is that right?

Bill Shea

Yes. As we go into fiscal ‘17 we will be giving more guidance with regard at the August timeframe, we are going to continue to look to drive down our operating cost and whether that impacts marketing or not, that’s when we try and stay away from – we try to be more efficient in our marketing spend, because we are looking to drive growth, but we are always looking to drive down our operating cost.

Jim McCann

I think you can look to what happened this quarter, Mike, in marketing spend to the flowers brand. You saw marketing spend because we knew we would be challenged on the top line, because Sunday is historically the worst placement day for Valentine’s Day. We know that for all the years that we have been doing that. What I am happy to point out is we did better and part of the reason we did better is we were able to manage our margins to have improved margins in a very difficult period. And to have a much more efficient marketing spend, because you didn’t have to reach as hard and we manage those costs. And of course having the outsized and record-breaking customer satisfaction scores that we have this Valentine’s Day all contributes to the more measured marketing spend having a much better effect overall in the bottom line.

Michael Kupinski

Okay, great. Thank you so much.

Operator

Our next question will come from Linda Bolton-Weiser of B Riley. Please go ahead.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Hi. Just another question on Fannie May. Just so I understand, can you remind us is really the vast majority of Fannie May sales in your own retail stores, what percentage is to other retailers in Fannie May?

Jim McCann

There is a very small percentage of Fannie May sales to other retailers. Bill, why don’t you give some color?

Bill Shea

Yes. I think the Fannie May retail stores represents probably between 50% and 60% of the overall revenues, but there is a big wholesale component to Fannie May and the Harry London.

Jim McCann

But not in the Fannie May brand.

Bill Shea

Yes, not as much in the Fannie May brand, but in the Harry London Chocolate business that we have. The e-commerce is a smaller piece.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Okay. So, I mean, most of your commentary has been focused around is improving kind of the traffic and the same-store sales in the Fannie May stores, but there is nothing – I mean, have you lost any wholesale customers in, it’s like in Harry London or anything, is there any just lost customers that you have to regain back?

Bill Shea

I think overall wholesale, year-over-year, is growing within Fannie May and we think we have opportunities. We believe we have opportunities to really accelerate the growth in wholesale. The reason we talk about the Fannie May retail stores, is because of the high gross margin dollars. There was always a high gross margin percent that the retail stores generate. They have gross margins in the 70% range. So, when you miss on the top line with Fannie May retail, it has a much disproportionate impact on the bottom line.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Right, that’s helpful. So then just thinking about – I know you don’t want to get into detail about FY ‘17. But I guess conceptually, I am thinking that the tone sounds like Fannie May issues may still impact like the September quarter, but it sounds like maybe the December quarter things will start looking a little better. So can I think of kind of the Fannie May maybe issues being offset by the positive Valentine’s placement next year and so net-net, you are still going to kind of drive for that 10% EBITDA growth that we – that you normally target, is that the right way generally to think about next year?

Chris McCann

I think in broad terms, our guidance has historically over the last few years has been towards 10% EBITDA growth. And we would be targeting something in that range. We will get into more details of that in our August call. We do believe that Fannie May can be a contributor as we head into the holiday season next year though.

Jim McCann

I thin all of those things, the wholesale business not really – we completely recovered in our wholesale business as Bill said we are expecting that Harry London brand, which is a wholesale brand to continue to grow. We expect it because of the vertical integration that we have is a manufacturer of our product that the high margin store business that we have will recover beginning in the September, October, November timeframe as we head into the holiday season with Halloween and other occasions, Thanksgiving sort of coming in the fall for us. And with a favorable day placement next year for Valentine’s Day, it should help us to even recover further in our confectionery brands.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Okay. And then can I just ask about Harry & David a little more specifically, can you – I don’t know you probably don’t want to give the sales performance right in the quarter or can you give Harry & David in the first half and then through the nine months, just I am trying to get a sense whether it got better or worse or something in the third quarter?

Chris McCann

So for Harry & David, we are happy with, as Jim mentioned they had not been growing prior to our taking over the business and merging it in with our enterprise efforts. So for the first nine months of the business, we are growing slightly over 3%. So keep in mind in this last net and after you back out a couple of stores that we closed as well and we are still growing 3.2%. So and keep in mind that the first quarter was a very small quarter percentage wise. So that was really driven by the first six months but carrying through into Q3 for us.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Okay. So then the growth kind of remains the same is what you are saying?

Jim McCann

I think the growth trend in Harry & David has remained consistent now throughout the first three quarters.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Okay. And then let’s see, in terms of the – I mean the floral profitability was spend trending good and it was very impressive in the quarter. So is this again, sort of just an example of kind of the rationale behavior within the industry, can you just give a little more color on how – on the profitability there?

Chris McCann

Well, I can’t give more color on the industry. We are the only people who publicly had – to this day, publicly disclosed how the quarter went. But I think, yes. I think you are seeing, in the floral side of our business, I think you are seeing more rationality being applied to the marketing spends in the different categories. So I think that’s contributing to the consumer’s benefit. I think it’s contributing to our the companies who play in this sector being able to market more of the differentiated product and less on the cheap product kind of message, which I think was damaging to the category. So I think it has had a benefit. But I think that the work that Tom Hartnett and his crew did on the retail side and Mark Nance and his team did on the BloomNet side speaks to good management, good execution, good direct marketing programs and all in the face of the very, very tough day placement. So it’s hard to beat your chest about 3% growth, but overall for the company, but when you have a floral category, we expect it was going to be down $10 million and to see it down less than half of that, we are thrilled.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Right. And then consumer confidence kind of remains generally quite high, but it’s just down a little bit in recent months and I think kind of year-over-year basis, if you look at Michigan consumer sentiment is actually down year-over-year, now are you concerned about that or do you still feel that the consumer is quite healthy? And just how do you think about that environment right now?

Jim McCann

Linda, we look at the consumer confidence index all the time. And I think on a macro level, maybe jumping back to a 20,000 foot level, clearly, we can see how it impacts our business. At this generally pretty good level, we haven’t seen an impact. We did see that the revision this morning about the April number being down a little bit, but it’s not changing our thinking about the consumer or at least the consumers that we have, which are fairly affluent consumers. I think that we are – it doesn’t – we wouldn’t want to see that trend line continue for a long time, but in the near-term, it doesn’t give us pause.

Linda Bolton-Weiser

Okay, great. Thanks very much.

Jim McCann

Thank you, Linda.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question will come from Anthony Lebiedzinski from Sidoti & Company. Please go ahead.

Anthony Lebiedzinski

Good morning. Thank you for taking the questions. So, I think Chris you just mentioned that in Harry & David you closed a couple of stores. Do you have any updated thoughts overall on the Harry & David store base, how are you thinking about that nowadays?

Chris McCann

I am sorry Anthony, could you repeat that question?

Jim McCann

I heard it. Anthony was asking about overall thoughts on the Harry & David store piece. Harry & David, when we acquired the company had around 50 stores. We are down this year probably another 3 stores, I think. So, I think that’s a couple of million bucks a little bit more in revenue headwinds there. Overall, we are an omni-channel retailer, Anthony. We like all the different vehicles that we can go to market with. We have some retail stores that do very well. We have some retail stores that were struggling where we thought that they couldn’t be changed. We have taken advantage of leases to exit those stores. But overall, we think that retail will not a big contributor to the overall mix and not likely to become a very big contributor. We still think it plays a role with us in the future. We have some things that are really interesting that are going on within retail and where we have opportunities to press on those and grow them, we will. But overall, I would expect to see another few stores come out of the mix as we ready ourselves to some future possible retail growth in the years ahead. But near-term, I would expect some more shrinkage in the store count as leases come up on less well performing stores, but we have some stores that are doing really well. So, it will be a part of our mix, not a huge part of our mix. And for the next year or so, I would expect a little bit more contraction there before we make the determination as to whether or not we have things we want to invest, capital behind in the retail area that we think give us growth opportunities.

Anthony Lebiedzinski

Okay, thanks for that. And also you talked a lot about the decreased traffic at the Fannie May stores. Just wondering, once those customers are inside the stores, what are you seeing as far as the average ticket? Are they spending also less or spending more, about the same? Just wanted to get a better sense about the average transaction size at the Fannie May stores?

Chris McCann

So, in the stores, the average ticket and the average transaction value has been flat to slightly up, which is good. Our conversion rates are relatively good in the stores. The challenge has been getting the people to return back to the store to find the products that they have loved. So, that’s why we have gone back, as I mentioned, first and foremost, product lineup, looking at the portfolio of product, understanding the traditional needs we have in addition to more forward-thinking trend product lines that we developed and then really looking at the community marketing strategies to get people into the stores. Some of the community engagement programs I referenced before as well as some of our marketing plans geared around the holiday. Understanding and digging in and analyzing what really was driving the customer foot traffic be prior and was the different marketing programs driving foot traffic with an appropriate return on investment. So, we have been really analyzing that whole mix. And as we mentioned before, we are pretty confident that we will see those trends pickup as we move into the holiday season.

Jim McCann

So, if you look at the three components, if you look at the third-party sales like the Harry London brand, recovered and doing well real good sell-through with our customers. If you look at the e-commerce side, okay. And if you look at the retail side, as Bill mentioned, the store side of things for us is where the margins are best, because we are the manufacturer as well. And there when we pulled all those community programs last year, because we didn’t have the appropriate inventory in the store, we didn’t realize how long it would take to reinstitute those programs that Chris just talked about to regenerate the traffic. So, we have average order up. We have conversion up. What we are missing is traffic and that’s what we are implementing now as traffic building programs, because we see the evidence that once our customers come back into our store, it’s as good as ever maybe better.

Anthony Lebiedzinski

Got it. Okay. And lastly, I may have missed this, but did you quantify the impact of the Easter shift?

Jim McCann

Bill, would you cover that?

Bill Shea

Yes, Anthony, it’s about a $5 million pull forward from Q4 into Q3 from a top line perspective.

Jim McCann

And remember Anthony, when you are looking at that as Bill always says that you should look at the two quarters combined, because Easter strows the quarter and it has a different impact. On the food side of the business, it’s a bigger impact when Easter is in the third quarter, Bill, in our Gourmet Food businesses?

Bill Shea

Yes. So the issue with moving from April 5 a year ago to March 27 this year, we had a week last year in the fourth quarter that impacted really both Consumer Floral and the Gourmet Food and Gift Basket. But Gourmet Food and Gift Basket had more revenues last year.

Jim McCann

And next year?

Bill Shea

Next year it moves to end – the latter part of April. So, it’s going to move all the way to the fourth quarter. All of it will be in the fourth quarter.

Jim McCann

And it’s also better when it’s later overall.

Anthony Lebiedzinski

Got it. Okay. Thanks very much.

Operator

Having no further questions, this will conclude our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Mr. Jim McCann for any closing remarks.

Jim McCann

Well, thank you all and thank you for your interest. A reminder, this week, this current week and tomorrow in particular, Administrative Professionals Week, I would like to remind you to come to our multi-branded website, give you an opportunity to express yourself to all those professionals in your life around your office who keep you running and working effective everyday. And of course, next week is an important week for us all as well, it’s Mother’s Day week. And I am just saying, you ought to come visit a multi-branded portal you might know, I think we have a terrific assortment of gifts that will make all the moms in your life have a big smile on their face. Thanks for your time today.

Operator

The conference is now concluded. Thank you for attending today’s presentation. You may now disconnect your lines.

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