Leading footwear retailer Brown Shoe Co Inc on Tuesday posted a 24 per cent jump in second quarter net income as higher margins and lower inventory levels made up for weak sales.

The St Louis-based firm, which operates the Famous Footwear and Naturalizer chains, said its net profit climbed to $7.2m, or 40 cents a share, from $5.8m, or 33 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Consolidated net sales from its 1,300 stores and wholesale unit rose three per cent to $456.3m from $442.1m, with sales at its Famous Footwear division up slightly to $270.8m from $266.4m but same-store sales down 2.2 per cent.

Sales at its Naturalizer chain, which has axed 60 unprofitable stores in recent months, fell to $50.2m from $54.6m in 2001, with same-store sales down 3.4 per cent. Wholesale sales climbed 11 per cent to $134.2m from $120.9m.

In a statement, Brown Shoe chairman and CEO, Ron Fromm, said the improved results were the result of its "Impact" initiative launched last year which aims to reengineer inventory management processes, improve logistics systems and eliminate redundant infrastructure.

"As projected, we are earning significantly more on our sales base due to the success of our Impact initiatives," he said.

"While the benefits of our strategy were evident during this tough consumer environment, we believe that when consumer spending returns to more normal levels, we will be well positioned to leverage additional earnings from our retail businesses."

The firm said it sees third-quarter earnings of between 90 cents and $1 a share, up from 68 cents in 2001, and has targeted full-year earnings of $2.10 to $2.15 a share, compared with $1.61 last year.