Apparel chain Men's Wearhouse Inc on Wednesday posted a slight rise in first quarter profit as it enjoyed a strong finish to the period following a slow start.

The Houston-based operator of 684 stores said income for the 13 weeks to May 3 rose to $11 million, or 28 cents per share, from $10.5m, or 25 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Net sales edged up three per cent to $313.1m from $303.9m with same-store sales up one per cent in the United States but down 8.7 per cent in Canada.

The company forecast second quarter earnings of 22 to 25 cents per share and full year from $1.18 to $1.22 per share, with second quarter net sales seen up three per cent at $317m to $322m and full year sales up four per cent in the range of $1.34 billion to $1.35bn.

Founder and CEO, George Zimmer, commented: "We are pleased with our performance after experiencing a very difficult and very different quarter. We experienced severe winter storms in many of our markets and a war that began and ended, all within our first quarter.

"We have noted improvement in our business beginning in the last half of April, a trend that continues as we move into the first month of our second quarter."