Leading women's apparel retail chain AnnTaylor Stores Corp yesterday revealed its first-quarter net profit almost doubled to $20.9 million from $10.9m in the year-ago period thanks to strong sales of full-price fashions.

The operator of Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft stores, said same-store sales for the quarter to May 4 were flat and are expected to remain so during the second quarter. Total net sales for the quarter climbed 12.5 per cent to $345.4m.

"The first quarter of 2002 turned out to be our most profitable first quarter to date," said chairman Patrick Spainhour in a statement. "Strong full-price selling continued at both of our retail concepts, resulting in gross margin rates that exceeded our expectations."