Footwear and apparel company Rocky Brands says it is "encouraged" by the company's recent performance, despite a narrowing of first quarter profits to US$0.3m.

Net sales were down 1.9% to $60.5m, while the company's net income figure was down from last year's profit of $0.8m.

Diluted earnings per share was down to $0.05 from $0.14 last year. Gross profit was fractionally lower at $25.9m, compared to $26.1m.

Rocky Brands chairman and CEO Mike Brooks said the results were in line with the company's internal forecasts.

"In light of the challenging retail environment here in the US, we are encouraged by our recent performance, particularly the double-digit sales increase for our Lehigh retail business, as well as the continued market share gains for our licensed brand Dickies," he added.

"We are also pleased with our progress toward controlling production costs and believe we are on track to deliver improved profitability this year."