Department store retailer JC Penney has boosted its third-quarter income through good sales and reduced interest expense.

Third-quarter income totalled $234 million compared with $149m in the same period last year.

Comparable department store sales increased 2.5 per cent compared with a 2.6 per cent rise last year.

Direct sales fell 0.9 per cent compared to a 3.6 per cent increase last year. Sales for jcpenney.com increased more than 25 per cent in the third quarter on top of a 30 per cent increase last year.

Chairman and chief executive Myron Ullman III said: "We are pleased with our operating performance during the course of 2005, especially in the third quarter, which was a very challenging retail environment.

"As we enter the fourth quarter, we are well positioned for the holiday selling season."

Ullman added that customer response to merchandise, marketing and sales changes had been good, and that it would continue to concentrate on putting into practise its long-term strategy.

JC Penney is a large-scale department store, catalogue, and e-commerce retailers, operating about 1,017 JC Penney department stores throughout the US and Puerto Rico.