Despite posting a rise in second-quarter net income, upmarket jeanswear brand True Religion admitted it was "overly aggressive" in efforts to expand its women's wear merchandise - with sales falling as shoppers turned away from its new spring and summer lines.

Speaking on a conference call with investors on Tuesday (31 July), company president Lynne Koplin said the women's division suffered from reduced demand as shoppers bought fewer clothes - and higher discounts in outlet stores.

The retailer introduced four new collections of denim jeans in its women's business, replacing its other classic styles. However, this tactic did not appear to pay off.

"These new collections, which represented subtle True Religion brand jeans, did not resonate well with our customers," she said.

"While we are committed to expanding and evolving our assortment to include fresh and innovative new merchandise, we were overly aggressive with the pace of change this season," she added.

Although same-store sales for True Religion's US consumer direct sector climbed 2.4%, Koplin said same-store sales in April were weaker because the new styles failed to resonate with shoppers.

Sales trends for the women's category in the company's outlet business were "challenging", Koplin said, because of a higher mix of "slow-moving transfer merchandise" that the retailer had discounted heavily.

As a result, Koplin said the company needs to change its strategy. "While we will continue to make every effort to provide an exciting merchandise offering to our customers, we will need to be more strategic in the way we introduce new product concepts and maintain better balance between new collections and core styles that are familiar to our repeat customers," she said. 

A "better balance" as well as more branded merchandise is expected in stores by the beginning of the fourth quarter to boost sales during the holiday period.

"Basically, with respect to the women's business, we had really not supported updating our core programmes enough.

"We've looked at pricing it more strategically and we've got a good new women's basic programme coming in at around the $200 price point, which we're very, very excited about. 

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lubell, chairman, CEO and chief merchant said: "My overall read on the company's results for the second quarter is mixed. While our largest segment, US consumer direct, had a same-store sales increase, we did not achieve our sales plan for the segment."

Looking forward, Lubell added: "Although we maintained that the overall retail environment will still be challenging in the fourth quarter, we anticipate that we will be better prepared with the right mix of merchandise between both men's and women's and denim and sportswear."

Despite posting a 0.7% rise in second quarter profit to US$9.8m, and a 6.8% rise in net sales to $104.9m, True Religion on Tuesday lowered its full-year earnings outlook.