Neiman Marcus Inc. said Friday that its fiscal third-quarter profit more than doubled, reflecting strong sales gains.

The Dallas-based retailer also said that the 200,000-square-foot expansion of its warehouse on Pinnacle Point Drive will be finished in August to handle its growing online business.

Neiman Marcus’ results, along with recently reported strong performances from Tiffany & Co., Saks Inc. and others, represent more evidence of a luxury retail rebound. Customers are coming back and spending full-price for merchandise.

An almost 10 percent quarterly sales increase and 17 consecutive months of increases in same-store sales are “a sign that our business is gaining momentum along with a stabilization of the economy,” said chief executive Karen Katz.

“The performance of the stock market directly affects how our customers feel about shopping. And our customers are gaining confidence in their finances, which translates into a willingness to spend money on items that are special and exclusive,” she said.

Direct sales, almost all online, were up 16 percent to $179 million in the quarter ended April 30. Katz said the company is using technology and social media to help drive sales online and in stores. She provided statistics in a call with analysts to review the quarter: Neiman Marcus Facebook fans increased from 90,000 in January to more than 330,000, and the company has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.

“Our followers are brand enthusiasts who consume and spread our content, which serves to also reinforce our position as the fashion and lifestyle authority,” she said. “We are connecting with customers in ways we never have before and using social media to drive business.”

Wi-Fi is being installed in Neiman Marcus stores to allow staffers to communicate with their customers on mobile devices, Katz said. “Email and texting has replaced the telephone as the primary ways we engage and communicate with our customers.”

The company plans to increase spending next year on remodeling stores and technology but didn’t give a number. One new Neiman Marcus store will open in 2012 in Walnut Creek, Calif.

The chain is still evaluating its three Last Call Studio stores, which it opened in neighborhood shopping centers instead of outlet malls with merchandise designed specifically for the stores.

Neiman Marcus reported a third-quarter profit of $46.2 million in the period ended April 30 compared with a profit of $18.5 million a year ago. Previous-year cost cuts and lower interest expenses contributed, but the company paid more in taxes.

Total sales were up 9.9 percent to $983.8 million from $895.2 million in the third-quarter last year. Same-store sales increased 9.7 percent.

Operating income increased 45 percent to $123.2 million from $85.3 million in the same period last year. Earnings before interest, taxes and other items increased 23 percent to $169.9 million from $138.3 million a year ago.

The company is privately held but reports quarterly financial results because it has publicly traded debt. This month, Neiman Marcus completed the refinancing of its $2.68 billion in debt from its 2005 leveraged buyout. It extended maturities and cut its quarterly interest payment by millions of dollars.


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