Footwear group Maxwell Shoe Company Inc has reported 35 per cent growth in its first quarter net income to $3.3 million, compared to $2.4m in the same period of fiscal 2003.

The Massachusetts-based company, which late last month received an unsolicited buyout offer from Jones Apparel Group Inc, also posted a net sales increase of 17.3 per cent to $53.6m for the quarter, up from $45.7m in the comparable period a year earlier.

Operating income, meanwhile, rose 41 per cent to $5.2m, compared to $3.7m in the previous first quarter.

CEO Mark Cocozza said the company was "delighted" to begin the year with improved financial results.

"Our better-than-expected results were driven by sales gains for all of our branded and private label footwear programs," he said.

"Importantly, we achieved success and increased market share within each of the markets we serve from moderate to better to bridge."

Maxwell designs, develops and markets footwear under such brands as Circa Joan & David, Dockers and Sam & Libby.