Children's Place Retail Stores Inc today reported an 8 per cent increase in net first-quarter sales to $173.0 million, and a 19 per cent increase in first-quarter earnings to $15.2 million.

The children's apparel retailer said comparable store sales decreased 11 per cent in the quarter, compared to a 2 per cent decrease for the same period last year.

"We are pleased with the results of the first quarter 2002, as we posted a record operating margin in a difficult retail environment," commented Ezra Dabah, chairman and chief executive officer in a statement.

"Looking ahead, we are reducing our revenue projections for the full year. However, given our anticipated improvement in gross margin, along with tighter management of our operating expenses, we remain comfortable with our previously stated 25 per cent earnings per share increase for 2002 versus last year."