Women's clothing chain Chico's FAS Inc on Thursday posted a 47.8 per cent jump in second quarter net income to $16.4 million from $11.1m in the year-ago period on the back of surging sales and higher gross margins.

The Florida-based operator of 340 stores said net sales climbed 39.8 per cent to a record $125.1m from $89.5m last year with same-store sales up 11.6 per cent from 2001.

For the first half, net sales increased 39.8 per cent to a record $255.5m from $182.7m and net income soared 54.1 per cent to $36.2m from $23.5m.

Chico's CEO Marvin Gralnick, said: "The second quarter again saw improvements in the gross and operating margins and, at the same time, we continued our significant investments in the future as we made major strides in our warehouse move to Atlanta, our new software initiatives and the development of our new concept, 'pazo'.

"We improved our cash and marketable securities position by almost $15m to over $68m, even after $34m in capital expenditures for the six months."