Leading supplier of merchandising systems to apparel makers and retailers, Paxar Corp, on Tuesday posted a sharp slide in first quarter net profit to $1.4 million due amid hefty charges.

The company said that figure compares to $7.5m last year and includes $3.1m related to the consolidation of operations and job losses. Sales climbed seven per cent to $163m from $153m.

President and CEO, Paul Griswold, said: "As we entered 2003, we were cautious about worldwide economic conditions and did not expect significant improvement in retail and apparel markets.

"Despite the difficult environment, we were able to increase sales over the prior year through our continued focus on providing value-added products and solutions.

"Our businesses outside the Americas performed well with sales up nine per cent net of foreign exchange effects; however, sales in the Americas declined four per cent."