• Q3 loss narrows to $20.5m
  • Sales up 0.4% to $188.1m
  • Gross margin improved to 35.1%

Women's wear retailer Coldwater Creek has seen its third-quarter losses narrow on the back of strong sales growth and lower costs.

Net income narrowed to US$20.5m for the quarter to 27 October, against a $29.2m loss last year.

Net sales edged up 0.4% to $188.1m, compared to $187.5m the same quarter last year, while comparable store sales increased 7.3%. Retail sales climbed 2.2% to $147.2m against $144.1m the prior year, while the company's direct division saw sales reach $40.9m, up 5.5% against $43.3m the year before.

Gross margin improved 510 basis points to 35.1% against 30% the same period last year.

Selling, general and administrative expenses declined 9.9% to $84.5m, compared to $76.1m the prior year due to lower marketing expenses.

"Our third quarter operating results demonstrate the significant progress we have made to refine our assortment architecture and fundamentally change the way our business operates," said chairman and CEO Dennis Pence.

"We achieved year-over-year improvements across numerous key operating metrics driven by a favourable response to our fall merchandise, and generated the first positive year-over-year gain in net sales in two years, even as we continued to rationalise our store base."

"We are confident that our strategic initiatives focused on revitalising our product, optimising our store base, and enhancing our marketing will allow us to continue our progress to position Coldwater Creek for sustained improvements in our business," Pence added.

The company expects fourth-quarter net loss to range from $0.55 to $0.65 per share.