Maternity apparel retailer Mothers Work Inc said second-quarter earnings beat expectations due to lower than planned operating expenses, tight expense controls and some shifts of planned expenses to later in the year.

Net loss for the second quarter of 2005 totalled $0.1 million compared to net income of $0.3m in the same quarter last year.

Second-quarter net sales rose 11.3 per cent to $140.0m from $125.8m a year ago, primarily due to the company's new Oh Baby! By Motherhood licensed arrangement with Kohl's, which began during the second quarter of fiscal 2005.

In addition, sales benefited from increased retail location count, driven by the addition of 569 Sears leased departments since March 2004, as well as increases in sales from the company's marketing partnerships and internet business, partially offset by a decrease in same-store sales.

Same-store sales decreased 3.0 per cent during the second quarter of fiscal 2005 compared to a same-store sales increase of 0.2 per cent during the second quarter of 2004.

Rebecca Matthias, president and chief operating officer, said that the company predicts full-year sales within the $565-$571m range, "representing sales growth of approximately 9 per cent to 10 per cent over fiscal 2004, based on the planned sales contribution from our Kohl's and Sears initiatives and our new stores".

Mothers Work designs and retails  maternity apparel, operating 863 stores, predominantly under the tradenames Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, Mimi Maternity, and Destination Maternity, and 728 leased departments.