Footwear retailer and wholesaler Brown Shoe Company Inc plans to scale back the number of Famous Footwear stores it opens this year after swinging to a first quarter loss.

But the firm also says it expects to post improved earnings for the full-year as it keeps a tight rein on costs.

For the three months to 2 May, its net loss was $7.6m, or $0.18 per share, compared with a profit of $7.2m, or $0.17 per share, a year earlier.

Net sales fell 2.8% but were slightly better than expectations at $538.7m, versus $554.5m last time.

At its Famous Footwear unit, which operates more than 1,100 stores, net sales were down 0.4% to $317.6m while same-store sales fell 4.9%.

Wholesale revenues dropped by 5.0% with a 0.6% rise at Naturalizer offset by a 5.1% drop at Dr Scholl's.

Ron Fromm, chairman and CEO, said the company "focused on managing expenses, inventory, working capital and debt

Looking ahead, the company expects to open 55 Famous Footwear stores in the year, and close 55 to 70. This will result in net openings that are flat to down 15 in 2009.

It also plans to shutter 30 stores a year in 2010 and 2011.

Annual sales are seen in the range of $2.2bn to $2.3bn, with Famous Footwear same-store sales likely to decline mid-single digits. And net earnings should be positive for the year, it says.