Women's apparel maker Cygne Designs Inc has widened its first quarter loss on lower sales and severance and compensation costs.

The New York based firm, which makes branded and private label women's denim, casual and career apparel, posted a net loss of $3.8m, or $0.10 loss per share, compared to a loss of $1.37m, or $0.05 per share in the same period last year.

The loss includes expenses of $1.281m in severance and compensation costs to the former and current CEOs.

Net sales for the three months to 30 April were down 26.7% to $15.28m from $20.86m in last year's quarter.

A $12.046m drop in sales of branded garments was partially offset by a $5.56m rise in private label sales and a $906,000 increase in non-denim products.

Gross profit fell 86.9% to $547,000, from $4.17m in the first quarter of 2007, and gross margins dropped to 3.6% from 20%.