Bebe Stores swung into a first-quarter profit helped by strong comparable-store sales growth.

The women's clothing brand yesterday (3 November) reported that net income for the quarter ended 1 October reached US$2.3m against a loss of $1.2m in the same period of the previous year.

Net sales from continuing operations rose 9.5% to $126.3m as comparable-store sales rose 7%.

Gross margin from continuing operations decreased to 40% from 40.5% in the first-quarter of 2011. It attributed the decrease to a decrease in initial mark-up and increases in inventory reserves and write-offs, offset by positive occupancy leverage. The decrease in gross margin continues to be driven by higher raw material and production costs, as well as the increase in 2b sales and international wholesale sales which are at a lower gross margin, it said.