US maternity wear retailer Destination Maternity recorded a jump in first quarter net income, despite sales declining over the period.

The company said that net income increased 70% to US$3.8m over the quarter ended 31 December from $2.3m in the same period of the prior year. Net sales were down 0.8% to $135.3m, which it attributed to the group's continued efforts to close underperforming stores. Comparable sales increased 1.9%.

Destination maternity CEO Ed Krell said the results represent the company's "second consecutive quarter of achieving both a comparable sales increase and a significant increase in earnings over the prior year" which he added showed the progress it is making in its "sales-driving initiatives while maintaining strong operational and expense discipline".

"Our key focus continues to be improving our sales performance through initiatives to enhance our merchandise assortments, merchandise presentation, store environment and customer experience," said Krell.

"While we recognize the challenging macroeconomic environment, we remain focused on the things that we can control, not on external factors that we cannot control. During fiscal 2012, we made many changes to drive improvements in our merchandise assortments and the way these assortments are presented in store, and we are pleased with the improved sales trend we have seen in the fall and early spring product selling seasons as we progress during fiscal 2013. We are cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see the results of our efforts in an improved sales trend during the current year and beyond."