Swimwear retailer Groupe Bikini Village has narrowed its third quarter net loss to CAD$1.2m (US$1.17m), from a loss of $1.4m in the prior year period, and says it has benefited from investments in new stores.

For the first nine-months of 2007, its net earnings totalled $348,000, compared to net earnings of $375,000 in the 2006 full-year.

The Canadian swimwear firm's net sales for the third quarter and the nine-month periods were $5.4m and $26.9m, respectively, compared to $5.6m and $28.2m in the corresponding periods of the previous year. Same-store sales decreased by 5.2% and 5.9%, respectively.

The company said a shift in the reporting calendar caused the performance to look weaker than it was.

"In fact, when the same weeks in 2006 and 2007 are compared, net sales for the third quarter are up by 6.4% in 2007 versus 2006, and comparable sales for the same set of weeks are up by 6.0%," it said.

"We are excited about and encouraged by these results, especially given that we achieved these increases despite renovations which led to average temporary shutdowns of six weeks in each of the stores we renovated," said Yves Simard, president and CEO of Groupe Bikini Village.

"Had all of our stores been fully operational for the entire quarter, our growth rate would have been even stronger on a comparable week basis."

Capital investments in Groupe Bikini Village's store network totalled $2.1m in the quarter and $3.7m in the nine month period ended 3 November, generating positive sales results, but contributing to an increase in operating loss in the third quarter.

Groupe Bikini Village said it continues to have a positive outlook for the balance of 2007.

"We are encouraged by the strong prospects that lie ahead of us," said Simard, "especially given the strength of the Canadian dollar and how that tends to encourage winter travel for our Canadian customers."