Men's branded footwear company Weyco Group Inc has posted a 6 per cent slump in first-quarter sales, affected by a discontinued line and challenging conditions within the market.

First-quarter net sales totalled $57.8 million compared with $61.7m in the first quarter of 2004, while first-quarter earnings rose 1 per cent to $5.20m from $5.15m a year ago.

The company said it was disappointed that sales had fallen in its wholesale division, but was encouraged with the overall profitability.

Tom Florsheim Jr, chairman and chief executive officer, said that the company's decision to discontinue the Florsheim FLS brand was in line with its "overall strategy to position Florsheim in better department stores and specialty shoe stores".

Florsheim added that while the company's volume may suffer in the short term, it believes that the move will help it to pursue its long-term strategy.

The company said that the 18 per cent drop in its Nunn Bush division's sales mirrored  "challenging conditions in the men's moderately priced footwear market".

Weyco Group Inc designs and markets moderately priced and better-grade men's branded footwear for casual, fashion, and dress lifestyles. Its main brands are Florsheim, Nunn Bush, Nunn Bush NXXT, Brass Boot, Stacy Adams and SAO by Stacy Adams. The Company also operates a small number of retail stores in the US and Europe.