A "secret sale" event helped Chico’s FAS post impressive numbers for second quarter 2002. The Fort Myers, Fla.-based specialty apparel chain reported a total sales gain of 42% to $46.5 million and a 15% gain in comp store sales for the period ending July 6,2002.

Though Chico’s scored a slightly higher comp store increase for 2Q 2001 (15.6%), analysts were still pleased with the retailer’s numbers compared to the anticipated performance of the specialty apparel sector as a whole.

"By region, management indicated that comps rose in the 20s and 30s in such varied markets as Cleveland, the Northeast (except Connecticut), Texas, most of Florida, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which was similar to May," reports analyst Margaret Whitfield of Brean Murray Research. "Low to mid single digit comps were reported in Arizona, the Northwest, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania."

Chico’s highest comp store sales gains (as much as 43% over the same period in 2001) were achieved in the third week of June, when members of the store’s Passport club received coupons for a "secret sale," including 30% off regular-priced merchandise and an added 20% off clearance merchandise. The sale boosted traffic and removed excess inventory.

In October, Chico’s VP of real estate told SCW, "We think Chico’s can be a 500- to 700-store chain. We’ll continue to build stores at our own pace, out of our own profit, not through public stock offerings or by incurring new debt." The chain currently includes 320 stores in 40 states, 11 of which are franchises.