US shoe chain Bakers Footwear Group has reported first quarter net loss of US$2.8m, compared to $4.9m in the same quarter last year, with open-toe footwear leading positive sales growth.

The company said net sales were $45.0m, an increase of 3.3% from $43.5m in the same period last year.

Same-store sales increased 4.8%, compared to a decrease of 11.1% in the prior-year period, Bakers reported.

Peter Edison, chairman and chief executive officer of Bakers Footwear Group, said: "We began the year solidly, reporting a 4.8% increase in first quarter comparable store sales, a 240 basis point increase in gross profit margin, positive adjusted EBITDA and a significant reduction of our loss, compared to the first quarter last year.

"Our performance, in an ongoing difficult economy reflects the desirability of our footwear offerings, which is driving increased regular price sales, as well as the ongoing success of our expense, inventory and capital management discipline."

"As we begin the second quarter, we are pleased with our positioning," Edison added. "Sales trends have remained positive with May's comparable store sales increase of 3.1%, marking our twelfth consecutive month of positive comp results.

"Open-toe footwear continues to lead our performance, which bodes well given that it increases as a percentage of our mix throughout the second quarter. We believe the strength in our offerings coupled with fiscal discipline has us poised to generate improved operating results and adjusted EBITDA during the remainder of fiscal 2009."