Private-label apparel company Oxford Industries Inc has more than doubled its first-quarter earnings, boosted by good profit for the Tommy Bahama brand.

Diluted earnings per share for the quarter increased 119 per cent to $0.79 versus $0.36 last year.

First-quarter net sales increased 27 per cent to $336 million from $265m in the first quarter of 2005.

The company said strategies to enhance the profitability of the Tommy Bahama Group took hold earlier than expected and resulted in significantly higher profitability than forecast.

J Hicks Lanier, chairman and chief executive, said: "Not only do our branded businesses remain very strong, but also our legacy business continues to improve.

"We have continued to reach new levels of efficiency in our operations and, despite a challenging retail and macro-economic environment, we are positioned to continue to perform well."

The Tommy Bahama Group reported net sales of $92m in the first quarter compared to $93m in the same period last year, as an increase in retail sales was offset by a decline in wholesale revenues and the discontinuation of the private label business.

Operating income for Tommy Bahama was $14.4m during the quarter - an increase of 21 per cent over the same quarter last year.

The men's wear group reported first quarter sales of $177m compared to sales of $119m last year, with operating income of $15.0m - an increase of 68 per cent versus the same period last year.

First-quarter sales for the women's wear group increased 30 per cent to $68m from $52mi last year, while operating earnings increased to $3.9m from a loss of $1.0m a year ago.

Oxford Industries Inc is a leading producer and marketer of branded and private-label apparel for men, women and children.