Ladies' wear retailer Christopher & Banks has reported a 14% leap in third-quarter profit, boosted by increased margins and reduced inventories.

Quarterly net income grew 14% to US$8.7m from $7.6m last year, as net sales increased 8% to $130.5m from $120.6m and same-store sales slipped 2%.

For the nine months ended 26 November, net income was $23.7m compared with $23.2m last year.

Nine-month net sales jumped 14% to $363.9m from $319.6m a year ago. Same-store sales edged up 1%.

Chief executive Joe Pennington said: "We are pleased that our third-quarter merchandise margins improved over last year levels, contributing to a 14% increase in net income.

"Our inventories continue to be well managed and we finished the third quarter with approximately 13% less in-store inventory on a square foot basis compared to the same period last year."

Pennington concluded: "Based on performance to date and our expectations for the balance of the month, we anticipate that December same- store sales will be flat to up 2% with merchandise margins solidly above last year levels."