New career apparel programmes launched in the second half of 2007 have helped Superior Uniform Group Inc to a 546% surge in first quarter earnings.

The Seminole, Florida-based firm said that for the three months to 31 March, net earnings rose to $801,370 or $0.12 per share, from $124,595 or $0.02 per share a year ago.

Net sales for the quarter were up 15.9% to $33.3m from $28.7m.

Michael Benstock, chief executive officer, said that while the results are pleasing, "the current economic outlook appears more demanding."

He added: "We are approaching the second half of 2008 with a measured level of cautiousness."