Phoenix Footwear Group Inc has narrowed its first quarter loss on soaring sales of its Tommy Bahama brand and tight control of costs.

The multi-brand footwear and accessories company said that for the three months to 29 March, net loss went down to $280,000, or $0.03 per share, compared with a net loss of $980,000 in the same period last year.

"We are very pleased with our first quarter performance, particularly in light of the present challenges in retail," said Cathy Taylor, Phoenix Footwear's chief executive officer.

Net sales increased 3% to $22.0m from $21.3m last time, boosted by strong performances from the Tommy Bahama and SoftWalk brands, which increased 34% and 10%, respectively, year-over-year.

Operating expenses dropped to $7.8m, or 35% of net sales, from $9.1m, or 43% of net sales, for the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company believes the second quarter will not produce a profit, but expects to see growth in the majority of its brands and gross margins.

For the fiscal year, Phoenix Footwear reiterated earlier guidance of net sales of between $95m to $100m and income of $2.0m to $2.5m.