Mall-based specialty retailer of music-licensed and music-influenced apparel, accessories and gift items for teens, Hot Topic Inc, has posted a 23 per cent jump in fourth quarter net sales to $109.1 million compared to the year-ago period.

Same-store sales for the 13 weeks ended February 2, 2002 rose 3.8 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year, while January same-store sales fell 3.1 per cent compared to 2001.

Total sales for fiscal 2001 surged 31 per cent to $336m from $257.1m for fiscal 2000.

Hot Topic president and CEO, Betsy McLaughlin, said: "We are pleased with our performance for fiscal 2001. We added 73 new Hot Topic stores, increased net sales by 31 per cent, produced positive comparable sales in each quarter and launched our new concept, Torrid.

"In January, historically our lowest sales volume month of the year, comparable sales were below our low single digit plan. Despite the disappointing January sales, we ended the fourth quarter and year with our margins and inventory on plan.

"We remain comfortable with consensus EPS guidance, adjusted to reflect the stock split, of $0.37 and $0.85, for the fourth quarter and full year, respectively."

She added: "We continue to be pleased with Torrid's sales. Following the strength of the post-Christmas sales in December, Torrid significantly exceeded our internal sales plan during each week in January."

Hot Topic currently operates 346 stores throughout the US, six Torrid stores and an e-commerce business.