• Q1 net earnings down to $18m
  • Net sales up 11% to $231m
  • Full-year EPS guidance increased to $2.85-$2.95 

Clothing manufacturer Oxford Industries remains optimistic despite posting a slight decline in first-quarter net profits.

The owner of the Ben Sherman, Oxford Golf and Lilly Pulitzer brands said net earnings for the quarter ended 28 April reached US$18m, compared to $18.1m the same period last year. Operating income climbed 6.8% to $32.8m, while net sales rose 11% to $231m. 

Consolidated gross margins decreased slightly to 55.9% from 56.5% the same period last year. The company attributed this to higher product costs and the impact of the depressed economic conditions Ben Sherman faced in the UK and Europe.

During the quarter, Tommy Bahama sales rose 15% to $141.1m, while operating profit rose 8% to $25.6m, which was driven by higher sales.

Lilly Pulitzer sales jumped 19% to $35.6m after increases in comparable store sales in the upper teens, the addition of one retail store and continued growth in e-commerce sales. Operating profit increased 57% to $11m.

Ben Sherman reported net sales of $17.4m, down from $19.4m the same period last year. Operating loss widened to $2.7m, compared to an $800,000 loss the year before.

At Lanier Clothes, net sales were flat at $33.0m, while operating income fell to $4m from $4.7m the same period last year. The decrease was due to continued gross margin pressures.

"We are pleased to report excellent first quarter results driven, in particular, by strength in our direct to consumer businesses at Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer," said chairman and CEO Hicks Lanier. 

The company has increased its full year adjusted EPS guidance to be between $2.85 and $2.95, with net sales of $850 to $865m. This compares to previous guidance of $2.70 to $2.80 in adjusted EPS and net sales of $840 to $855m.