Leading apparel and shoe chain Genesco Inc on Wednesday reported a fall in fourth quarter net profit to $14 million from $15.3m in the year-ago period on the back of slow holiday season sales.

The Tennessee-based company, whose brands include Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Johnston & Murphy, Jarman and Underground Station, said sales for the period climbed 11 per cent to $250m from $222m in the year prior.

For the full year, net sales increased 11 per cent to $828m from $746m while its net profit was flat at $38.4m.

Genesco said although December sales were weak, January were strong in terms of same-store sales growth while profit at its Johnston & Murphy shoe business was hurt by promotions at rivals.

Net sales rose 13 per cent at both Journeys and The Underground Station/Jarman Group during the quarter, while Johnston & Murphy's net sales rose slightly to $43m and Dockers net sales soared 33 per cent year-on-year to $19m.

President and CEO, Hal Pennington, said: "Fiscal 2003 represented another good year for Genesco, with double-digit sales growth and solid earnings.

"We saw particular strength in our retail operations during the year. Total retail sales expanded 14 per cent to $702m and overall same store sales increased three per cent. We also opened 97 stores to end the year with 991 stores in 46 states and Puerto Rico.

"Although we experienced a period of retail weakness in the month of December, we finished the year on a positive note, with January giving us some of our strongest same store sales increases of the year."