US sportswear brand Next Inc has announced that core sales of its Collegiate, Auto, Wildlife, and American Biker brands for the year increased 14.8% to US$28.6m, from $24.9m in the same period last year.

Total sales increased by 7.8% to $28.8m in 2006 from $26.7m in 2005 and gross operating margins were 28.2% for the year. The company discontinued private label and corporate sales products during the period.

In 2006, the college and university-aimed company lowered its production costs and has developed more competitive sources of raw materials in order to achieve increased margins related to its pricing model, it said.

Next CFO Charles Thompson said: "I am obviously pleased with the earnings improvement in 2006, but more impressively with the positive cash flow provided from operations of $2.21m compared to last year's negative cash flow, or cash used in operations of $365,000, which is a swing of $2.57m.

"The company reduced its inventory levels, which account for $1.52m  of the cash flow improvement, and the change in earnings accounts for $727,000 of the improvement from prior year. This was a major turnaround."