Clothing producer and distributor G-III Apparel Group Ltd on Thursday announced a narrower first quarter net loss on the back of a sharp rise in sportswear sales.

The company, whose labels include Black Rivet, Colebrook and Siena Studio and has fashion licenses with firms such as Kenneth Cole, Nine West, Timberland and Jones Apparel, posted a net loss of $2.6 million, or 38 cents a share, versus $4.2m, or 62 cents, in the year-ago period.

Sales jumped 47.4 per cent to $18.7m from $12.7m and the firm said it sees second quarter net sales of $44m and earnings per share between 10 and 12 cents.

CEO Morris Goldfarb said: "We are pleased that we have begun the new fiscal year at a strong pace for what is traditionally our weakest quarter of the year.

"Our sports apparel business continues to expand both in product depth and management expertise. We have added quality personnel in design, sourcing, sales and customer service to support its continued growing retail distribution."