Women's clothing retailer Ann Taylor Stores Corp has reported a net income increase of 22 per cent for the third quarter, from $24.9 million to $30.3m year-on-year.

The New York-based company's sales, meanwhile, rose 17 per cent for the quarter to $396.8m, up on $340.2m posted in the same period last year.

Comparable stores sales went up 6.2 per cent in the third quarter compared to 2002 figures, with 1.9 per cent rise posted for Ann Taylor stores and 13 per cent for Ann Taylor Loft stores.

Chairman J Patrick Spainhour said the positive results were fuelled by momentum coming out of a successful second quarter.

"Loft's excellent performance was driven by exciting fashion, great colour and novelty product across all categories," he said.

"At Ann Taylor, our positive third quarter comparable store sales results were driven by fall selling in our separates, woven tops and outerwear categories."

During the quarter, the retailer opened five new Ann Taylor stores and 31 new Ann Taylor Loft stores, bringing its total number of stores to 639 by quarter's end.