Saks Inc posted net earnings of $1.9 million, or 1 cent per share, in the third quarter ended 2 November, converting a year-earlier loss of $21.8 million, or 15 cents per share through improved margins and cost controls.

Total sales at the upscale department store retailer, however, slipped 1.2 per cent to $1.41 billion, from $1.42 billion in last year's third quarter. Same-store sales were ahead by just 0.1 per cent. Its Saks Department Store Group posted a narrow 0.5 per cent same-store sales increase at Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Off 5th.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based retailer, which owns department store chains including Saks Fifth Avenue and Proffitt's, also revealed restructuring plans aimed at cutting operating expenses by $12 million beginning in 2003. In addition, it has agreed to sell its credit card business to consumer finance company Household International Inc.