Luxury footwear and accessories maker Coach Inc has posted a 23% jump in first quarter profit, driven by strong sales of its new autumn product lines.

Net income for the three months to 29 September rose to $154.8m, or 41 cents a share, from $125.6m, or 34 cents, a year earlier.
Quarterly net sales were up 30% to $677m from $529m. US same-store sales rose 19.3%, with retail stores up 10.8% and factory store sales up 27.3%. In Japan, sales rose 15%.

Direct-to-consumer sales increased 26% to $508m from $404m, the company said. Indirect sales were 35% ahead at $169m, with strong gains at US department stores.

The company said its fastest-growing price segment is handbags retailing at over $400.

For the first fiscal quarter, operating income totalled $239m, up 32% from the $181m reported in the year ago period. Operating margin rose to 35.3%, a 120 basis point improvement from last year's 34.1%.

While Coach believes it is well-positioned for the holiday season, Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer, expressed concern at "recent traffic trends in our North American retail stores reflecting the retail environment and the unusually difficult comparisons with last year.

"Thus, we believe it's prudent to be more conservative in our comparable store sales guidance for the balance of the fiscal year."

For the fiscal year 2008 the company expects earnings per share of to increase by 22% to $2.06, on sales up 21% to $3.17bn.

Headquartered in New York, Coach operates 272 retail stores and 96 factory stores in North America, as well as 146 locations in Japan.