LaCrosse Footwear managed a 54.1% profit increase on a 10.7% jump in sales during the first quarter.

During the three months ended 31 March, net income was US$604,000, or $0.10 a diluted share, up from $392,000, or $0.07, in the year-ago quarter.

Sales reached $23.7m from $21.4m as work market sales jumped 13%, to $15.4m, and outdoor market sales, principally for hunting and other rugged outdoor activities, rose 6.7% to $8.3m.

"Our sales and earnings growth continued to be driven by the success of our new products, and our ability to meet at-once demand allowed us to capitalise on favourable weather conditions in the latter half of the quarter," said Joseph Schneider, president and chief executive officer of the Portland, Oregon-based firm.

"We continue to increase our brand equity and capture market share in work and outdoor markets that are quality and performance driven."

He added that the company was "very encouraged" by reactions to the new fall lines of its Danner and LaCrosse brands.

During the quarter, gross margins reached 40.6% of sales, 140 basis points above the 39.2% registered during the first quarter of 2006.

By Arnold J Karr.