Jeans and casual clothing chain Pantorama Industries Inc on Thursday revealed it more than doubled its first quarter loss amid weak sales.

The Montreal-based operator of 155 stores reported a net loss of C$3.2 million versus C$1.4m last year with same-store sales and total sales down 11.7 per cent to C$20.6m from C$23.5m in the year-ago period.

President Sydney Aptacker commented: "The poor sales performance for the first quarter is primarily attributable to the continued general weakness that exists in the retail apparel sector and the extremely competitive retail environment.

"Additionally, much weaker sales results were observed in Ontario for the month of April, as compared to Quebec. We believe that this was mainly as a result of the public fear of SARS which ultimately affected the level of mall traffic.

"The company is working aggressively in closing unprofitable stores and will continue its efforts to reduce costs in order to improve performance."