Speciality women's wear retailer Christopher & Banks saw net income boosted by 57% in the first quarter on the back of improved sales and margins.

In the period ending 27 May, the Minneapolis-based company's net sales were up 16% to US$142.5m, with same-store sales also up by 7%. Net income rose 57% to $14.6m.

Christopher & Banks CEO Joe Pennington described the quarter's performance as "strong" and said: "Our results exceeded our internal plan and were driven by strong sales growth and significantly improved merchandise margins.

"We are particularly pleased with our 57% increase in first-quarter net income, which at $14.6m was the highest for any quarter in the company's history."

Pennington added that June's sales had so far continued the positive trend, leading him to forecast a same-store sales rise of 6-8% for the month to 24 June.

"As we look forward, we are excited about the continued evolution of our brands and are optimistic that customer reaction to changes in our merchandise assortment will remain strong."