Leather goods retailer Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc has reported a narrowed first-quarter net loss after structural changes enhanced the productivity of its existing store base and reduced its risk profile.

Net loss for the quarter totalled $3.8 million compared to $26.8m in the same quarter last year.

First-quarter net sales fell 13.7 per cent to $84.3m compared to $97.8m a year ago, while same-store sales grew 15.8 per cent compared to a decrease of 2.0 per cent in 2004.

Michael Searles, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "Strong sales in our NASCAR merchandise, unseasonably cool weather in most of our markets and increased levels of inventory helped lift our sales performance during the quarter."

Wilsons Leather sells leather outerwear, accessories and apparel in the US, operating approximately 429 stores.