Footwear operator Collective Brands posted a fourth quarter loss of US$144m, substantially up on last year's figure of $46.6m, as comparable store sales fell 6.6%.

The company's net sales were down 5.4% to $735.2m in the three months to 31 January, bringing full-year sales to $3.44bn, up 13.4%.

Comparable store sales for the year were down 3.6%, and the full-year net loss was $68.7m, compared to a profit of $42.7m in 2007.

"We strengthened the company in 2008 as we maintained market share in a highly promotional domestic retail environment and delivered strong cash flows," said Matthew E Rubel, chairman, CEO and president.

"We accomplished this by providing record customer satisfaction at Payless and growing Saucony and Sperry Top-Sider.

Internationally, we achieved strong growth in Payless Latin America and Stride Rite Europe."

Rubel added that the company had continued to manage costs aggressively in response to the current economic climate.

"At the same time, we are managing inventories effectively to make sure fresh, on-trend product is flowing to our stores," he said.