Nautical apparel firm Dickie Walker Marine Inc has recorded net sales of $4.5 million for fiscal 2003, a 55 per cent year-on-year increase.

The California-based company attributed the increase to greater sales of its West Marine private label branded products, the opening of the first Dickie Walker retail store and the launch of a wholesale division.

However, despite improved sales figures, the company posted a wider net loss of $1.68m for the 12 months to September 30, compared to a loss of $1.19m in the previous fiscal year.

"Included in the net loss for the current year were approximately $423,000 of marketing, merchandising and trade show expenses incurred to launch the Dickie Walker line to the wholesale trade," CEO Gerald Montiel explained.

"This is an increase from the $140,000 of marketing, merchandising and trade show expenses in fiscal 2002.

"We also incurred $275,000 of expenses related to operating a publicly-traded company compared to $72,000 of similar expenses for the last fiscal year.

"When adjusted for these differences and an improved gross margin, our adjusted operating loss for fiscal 2003 was flat with fiscal 2002."