Children's clothing maker OshKosh B'Gosh Inc today said net sales for the third quarter ended 28 September fell to $133.9 million from $147.5 million a year ago.

Wholesale sales were hit by heavy discounting and soft back-to-school sales, falling to $57.9 million from $69.6 last year.

Retail net sales were $75.1 million compared to $76.6 million year-on-year. A decline in store traffic, lower retail price points and "the highly promotional retail environment" contributed, as did third quarter comparable store sales decrease of 9.4 per cent.

For the nine-month period, net sales were $318.8 million compared to $337.9 million; and operating income was $34.2 million versus $40.8 million. Net income totalled $21.0 million, down from $24.3 million last year.

Douglas W Hyde, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the company still expects fourth quarter net sales to range between $125 million and $133 million.

"We expect the wholesale business to be favourably impacted by earlier shipments of spring 2003 product, our initial shipments of approximately $2 million to $3 million to Mervyn's, as well as continued strength in our Kohl's business. Based on these factors, we forecast wholesale net sales to be in the range of $54 million to $58 million.

"On the retail side, we are projecting a high single digit comparable store sales decrease and retail net sales between $69 million and $75 million. On the bottom line, we see earnings per share in the range of $0.80 to $0.90 for the fourth quarter."