Shoe chain Stride Rite Corp on Tuesday announced a two per cent slip in third quarter net income to $7 million from $7.2m in the year-ago period despite a climb in sales.

The Massachusetts-based firm, whose brands include Keds, Sperry Top-Sider and Tommy Hilfiger, said net sales rose to $137m from $135.4m in 2001 and added it expects full-year earnings per share in the range of 55-58 cents.

Chairman and CEO, David Chamberlain, said: "Overall, our third quarter results reflect the soft retail environment and slow back-to-school sales. However, the strength of our Tommy Hilfiger footwear sales, which increased 17 per cent in the quarter, allowed us to exceed our earnings expectations.

"Despite a difficult global economy, our international division continues to show positive momentum by growing sales 11 per cent versus last year."