Oxford Industries fourth quarter and full year earnings have been hit by a tough retail climate, the company announced in a statement.

For the three months ended June 1, the US-based apparel maker posted net income of $5.3m, or 70 cents a diluted share, down 27.7 per cent from $7.3m, or 94 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Net sales slipped 12.4 per cent to $215.9m, down from $246.4m in the same period last year.

"This year has been as challenging as any period we have faced in the past decade," said chairman and president J. Hicks Lanier. "Despite heavy price promotion at retail, sales have been lacklustre across most product lines [and] excessive markdowns have been required to keep inventories in line."

Gross profit as a percentage of sales in the period slipped 100 basis points to 18.1 per cent, as selling, general and administrative costs dropped 14.2 per cent to $29.4m. Inventories at the end of the quarter and year stood at $147.4m, a 3.8 per cent decrease from $153.2m at the end of fiscal 2000.

For the full year, company earnings tumbled 34.6 per cent to $15.3m, down from $23.4m in the prior year. Sales were $812.5m, a 3.2 per cent decline from the previous year's $839.5m.