• Q3 net earnings $36.9m
  • Net sales up 0.5%
  • "In the midst of a difficult economy"

Footwear retail group Collective Brands has reported a 22% fall in third quarter net earnings, despite improving sales during the period.

This included third quarter 2009 settlement of certain litigation and severance, and third quarter 2008 litigation, severance, and expiration of the Tommy Hilfiger adult footwear license.

The company's third quarter net earnings were $36.9m, compared to $47.5m in the same period last year.

Collective Brands' third quarter 2009 net sales were $867.0m, up 0.5% versus last year. The company's third quarter 2009 comparable store sales increased 3.1%.

"Our strong third quarter operating results demonstrate the success of our strategy in the midst of a difficult economy," said Matthew E Rubel, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Collective Brands.

"Sales increased, operating margins improved, and we generated substantially greater free cash flow. At Payless, we had strong children's results that produced a successful back-to-school season, and we had a strong boot performance as well.

"Saucony and Sperry Top-Sider also showed continued strength. Across Collective Brands, we delivered on our customer promise with innovative and fresh product, outstanding customer service, effective marketing, and efficient merchandise flow, all of which led to strong results."

Inventory at the end of the third quarter was $403.2m, down 13.8% compared to the prior year period.

Click here to view the company's full third quarter earnings result.