Sporting goods and apparel group Everlast Worldwide Inc said first-quarter net revenues leapt 23 per cent after the company increased marketing and promotion spending.

For the quarter ended 31 March 2005, net revenues for continuing operations totalled $12.2 million compared to revenues of $9.9m the year before

Net sales from continuing apparel operations and sporting goods increased 16 per cent to $9.1m compared with $7.9m in the first quarter of fiscal 2004. Net licensing revenues advanced 49 per cent to $3.1m compared with $2.1m in the prior period.

For the first quarter, the company's gross margin was 38.3 per cent, compared with 41.7 per cent in the first quarter a year ago, mainly due to a change in product mix.

George  Horowitz, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "Our increased marketing and promotion costs this quarter, combined with other selling efforts, enabled us to achieve record first-quarter revenues."

He added that the company's brand building strategy showed the global reach of the Everlast brand with its product placement in May Department Stores and the signing of fifteen new licenses since the beginning of 2005.

Everlast Worldwide Inc manufactures, markets and licenses sporting goods and apparel products under the Everlast brand name. Through its apparel division, Everlast men's active wear products are sold to over 20,000 retail locations throughout the US and Canada, including a variety of department stores, specialty stores, catalogue operations and better mass merchandisers.