Branded clothing company Jones Apparel Group Inc said it saw a better-than-expected first quarter, primarily due to a good performance of its wholesale business.

For the first quarter of 2005, revenue totaled $1.35 billion compared to $1.22bn for the same quarter last year.

Earnings per share were $0.71 for the first quarter of 2005, compared to $0.73 in the same period last year.

Same-store sales from owned footwear and ready-to-wear stores (excluding Barneys New York) were down 3.7 per cent compared to an increase of 13 per cent in the prior year.

The company's president Peter Boneparth said he was "very encouraged" by the continued strong performance of Barneys New York, which saw same-stores rise 10 per cent compared to 18.7 per cent in 2004.

However, he added: "These positives were offset by weakness in our wholesale footwear, accessories and junior denim businesses. Gross margin pressure in these businesses dampened our performance and overall results."

The company has slimmed its forecast revenue for 2005 to a range of $5.20 to $5.25bn, and its earnings prediction to $2.75-$5.25bn.

Jones Apparel Group Inc is a leading designer, marketer and wholesaler of branded apparel, footwear and accessories. Its brands include Jones New York, Evan- Picone, Norton McNaughton, Gloria Vanderbilt, Erika, lei, Energie, Nine West, Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini, Bandolino Joan & David, Mootsies Tootsies, Sam & Libby, Napier, Judith Jack, Kasper, Anne Klein, Albert Nipon, Le Suit and Barneys New York.

The Company also markets goods through licenses under the Polo Jeans Company brand, the Tommy Hilfiger brand, the Givenchy brand and the Dockers Women brand.