Originally created 04/02/97

Montgomery Ward's losses grow



CHICAGO - Montgomery Ward Holding Corp. said its losses widened to $237 million during 1996 - a period when most retail chains reported modest gains in revenue and profits.

The loss, reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, compared with a $9 million shortfall in 1995. The company said its revenue fell 6 percent to $6.62 billion from $7.08 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year - a standard measure of a retailer's strength - fell 11 percent.

The privately held company blamed its losses on heavy markdowns and the liquidation of discontinued merchandise. Sales also were hurt by increased competition and weak demand for electronics.

In a statement, chairman and chief executive Roger Goddu acknowledged the difficult year and said officials are working "to begin our turnaround process." He said he and his management team are trying to renegotiate payments and are assessing the company's strengths.

Montgomery Ward Holding Company operates stores in 43 states, including a store in Augusta's Regency Mall.