Leading slipper manufacturer RG Barry Corp on Monday revealed it swung to a fourth quarter and full-year loss amid sliding sales and large restructuring expenses.

The Ohio-based company posted a quarterly net loss of $4 million versus a year-ago net profit of $3.2m as net sales slipped to $47.4m from $52.1m. Included in the figure was a restructuring charge of between $2.5m and $3.5m.

For the full year, the firm posted a net loss of $11.9m compared to a profit of $932,000 in 2001 with sales falling 10 per cent to $122.6m from $134.6m.

"2002 was a difficult and financially disappointing year for our business," said chairman and CEO, Gordon Zacks, in a statement. "Included in our loss were expenses for restructuring and other costs related to the implementation of our strategic plan.

"When we combined those expenses with a sizeable unplanned loss in our thermal products subsidiary, unplanned losses in Europe, a generally anaemic economy and a very disappointing holiday selling season in some major mall-based retailers, the overall 2002 financial results were below our expectations."

He continued: "In hindsight, we were overly optimistic estimating how quickly we would reap the benefits of our extensive strategic efforts and estimating the total costs of implementing the highly complex 2002 portion of our strategic plan.

"However, we remain confident that our three-year strategy is the correct course to follow. Entering 2003, the final year of our plan, the most costly and risk-laden elements have been successfully implemented."

He added: "Our first quarter loss in 2003 will be greater than the first quarter loss of 2002. The increased loss will largely be due to costs related to the closure of our Goldsboro and Wales distribution centres and to the changes in our European business."