Women's wear retailer Charlotte Russe highlighted the progress made by the company in reporting a slight fall in third quarter profits, but reduced markdowns.

Net sales for the three months to 27 June were up 4.9% to US$202.7m, although comparable store sales declined 3.6%.

Net income was $6.3m, compared to $6.6m in the same period last year. For the first nine months of the fiscal year, net sales rose 2.9% to $634.6m, with comps down 7.1%, and net income plummeting to $2.5m from $24.8m last year.

"During the third quarter, we continued to make progress with our strategic and operational initiatives, which resulted in reduced markdown levels and improved gross profits versus a year ago," said Charlotte Russe Holding CEO John D Goodman.

"Although the environment remains extremely challenging, we believe there is a tremendous opportunity for Charlotte Russe to improve its leadership position in the fast fashion category.

"We're continuing to manage the business conservatively by controlling inventories, conserving costs and prudently investing in the resources, talent and systems necessary to help take the Charlotte Russe brand to the next level."

The company expects fourth quarter comparable store sales to be down in the low to mid single-digits, with diluted earnings per share, before one-off charges, in the range of $0.18-0.26.