International marketer and distributor of leather goods The Leather Factory Inc on Wednesday reported a sharp climb in third quarter income to $534,000 from $396,000 in the year-ago period.

The Texas-based company said net sales in the quarter to September 30 rose three per cent to $9.4 million from $9.1m in 2001, while same-store sales were flat.

Chairman and CEO, Wray Thompson, said: "When comparing this quarter's results to that of the third quarter of 2001, we've got good reason to be pleased.

“The significant increases in gross profit margin for the third quarter and the first nine months of 2002 are encouraging even though the sales this quarter didn't come in as strongly as we had hoped.

"Costs associated with the opening of the new Tandy stores and the major renovation of our Fort Worth flagship store and central warehouse are increasing our operating expenses slightly. However, we believe that both projects are crucial to our continued growth and operating efficiency."