An investment in footwear and a reduction in its slower selling apparel category has helped The Finish Line Inc (Nasdaq:FINL) achieve a 15 per cent sales gain for the thirteen weeks ended August 26, 2000. The specialty retailer of men's, women's and children's brand name athletic and lifestyle footwear, activewear and accessories, has also announced that it plans to open around 30 new stores in the remaining fiscal year. In a statement, Alan H Cohen, president and chief executive officer said: "We are pleased to report a 15 per cent sales gain for the quarter which included a 3 per cent increase in comparable store sales. However, as we discussed in our August 31 sales release, our product margins suffered due to significant promotions and clearance markdowns in our apparel category. On the positive side, comparable footwear sales continue to be strong, resulting in a 6 per cent gain for the quarter and 5 per cent year to date. We have continued to emphasize the footwear category and reduce our investment in the slower selling apparel category. At the end of the quarter, overall inventories were down 8 per cent per square foot primarily due to significant reductions in apparel, which decreased almost 30 per cent per square foot. "We plan to open approximately 30 new stores and remodel/expand 12 existing stores equating to a 7-8 per cent increase in retail square footage for this fiscal year. Our balance sheet remains strong with over $50 million in cash and marketable securities and no interest bearing debt as of the end of Q2. Our stockholders' equity has grown to $234 million, which approximates $9.50 per share. We are well positioned financially to remain flexible and strong during a difficult period for athletic apparel retailing."