Leading US footwear retailer Brown Shoe Co Inc on Wednesday posted a fourth quarter loss of $28 million despite a small rise in sales.

The Missouri-based firm said earnings excluding charges fell to $4.2m, or 24 cents a share, from $5m, or 29 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Sales rose 1.9 per cent to $415.3m but a restructuring charge of $32m, or $1.84 a share, to cover inventory markdowns at its Famous Footwear stores ate into profit.

That charge also covered severance costs, lease terminations and asset write-offs for the axing of 97 under-performing Naturalizer stores and retiring some debt.

The company added in a statement it expects earnings in the first and second quarters of 35 cents to 40 cents a share in fiscal 2003.