Footwear manufacturer Wolverine World Wide Inc today posted a 7.1 per cent year-on-year climb in first quarter net income as it enjoyed higher margins on its major brands.

The Michigan based-company, which produces brands including Hush Puppies, Merrell, and Bates, said net income was $6.4 million, or 15 cents a share, in the quarter, to $6m, or 14 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

It added that sales and other operating income jumped 12 per cent to $177.3m in the quarter and said it sees full-year earnings of $1.12-$1.15 a share, on sales of $820-$830m.

"We are off to a solid start in 2002, the first quarter was better than we anticipated as consumer demand for our lifestyle products remained high and our acquisitions performed as planned said Timothy O'Donovan, president and CEO of Wolverine World Wide.

"I am pleased with the integration of our newly acquired CAT and Merrell European operations which added approximately 10 per cent to the company's revenues during the quarter. In addition, a number of our major brands contributed to the quarter's record performance.

"Our Merrell and Harley-Davidson brands and our Hush Puppies international wholesale and licensee operations all posted double-digit sales increases during the quarter."

He added: "These gains were offset in part by the planned exit of the Coleman brand in the US and continued softness in our US Hush Puppies and CAT Footwear operations, both of which are in a re-building phase under the direction of new leadership teams."