Footwear and apparel maker Rocky Brands posted a loss of US$23.1m in 2007 after experiencing a "challenging" year.

The company recorded a fourth quarter 2.8% increase in net sales to $72.5m, but suffered a $23.6m loss thanks to a $23.5m charge related to goodwill impairment.

For the full year, sales were up 4.5% to $275.3m, but the company recorded a $23.1m loss, compared to a profit of $4.8m the year before.

Chairman and CEO Mike Brooks highlighted retail gains in the company's fourth quarter, along with shipments to the US military.

"However, we experienced softness in our outdoor and western footwear segments, which negatively impacted our sales and earnings," he added.

Turning to the full year results, Brooks said: "Fiscal 2007 was a challenging year for our company as we faced increased competition, pricing pressure and a difficult consumer environment.

"Over the past 12 months, we have implemented several initiatives aimed at expanding margins, reducing operating expenses and improving earnings."

Steps had been taken to diversify the business, he added, opening up new categories "with compelling long-term prospects".