Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. (NASDAQ NMS:WLSN) today announced a 72% improvement in its first quarter results, reporting a net loss of $0.8 million, or $0.05 per basic and diluted share for the 13 weeks ended April 29, 2000, compared to a net loss of $2.7 million, or $0.17 per basic and diluted share, in the first quarter last year. Current year results are before an extraordinary charge of $0.03 per share related to the early extinguishment of debt and last year's results are before a one-time charge of $0.09 per share for the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle.

Joel Waller, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented, "We are very pleased with our first quarter results, our best first quarter financial performance as a public company. We are making substantial progress towards improving the seasonality of earnings in our business. The strong sales performance of our young women's merchandise, up more than 40% from last year, is a direct result of our strategy to better serve the younger, more fashion-conscious customer. I am also pleased that our outlet business, one of our key growth strategies, continues to perform better than expected."

Sales for the first quarter increased 11.1% to $90.3 million on the strength of a comparable store sales increase of 7.2%.

Waller continued, "Our gross margin rate improved significantly over last year due to increased sales of higher margin fashion goods and fewer clearance markdowns on prior season merchandise due to strong sales in the fourth quarter of 1999. We are also encouraged by the impact that additional marketing spending is producing, by increasing both our sales and our brand awareness. We are on track to open approximately 50 new stores during fiscal 2000, further expanding our presence throughout the United States."

In addition, the Company repurchased an additional $13.3 million of its 11 1/4% Senior Notes during the quarter, reducing its long-term debt to $30.6 million compared to $65.5 million one year ago.

Wilsons Leather is the leading specialty retailer of leather outerwear, apparel and accessories in the United States. As of April 29, 2000, Wilsons Leather operated 536 retail stores in 44 states, Canada and England, including 444 mall stores, 63 outlet stores, and 29 airport locations. The Company, which regularly supplements its permanent mall stores with temporary holiday stores during its peak selling season from October through December, operated 249 of these stores in 1999. Additionally, the Company's e-commerce site at www.wilsonsleather.com offers leather apparel and accessories, as well as Company background and financial information.

Except for historical information, matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may be materially different. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include: changes in consumer preferences and fashion trends away from leather; economic downturns; seasonality of the business; risks associated with foreign sourcing and international business; decreased availability and increased cost of leather; effects of Year 2000 on information systems; concentration of our common stock; risks associated with future growth; loss of Chief Executive Officer or President; debt service; increased competition in the retail leather outerwear, apparel and accessories industry; failure to attract qualified personnel; and volatility of our common stock.


WILSONS THE LEATHER EXPERTS INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(In Thousands, Except Per Share Data)
(Unaudited)

First Quarter Ended
April 29, May 1,
2000 1999
Net sales $90,308 $81,343
Costs and expenses:
Cost of goods sold, buying and
occupancy costs 60,194 58,688
Selling, general and
administrative expenses 29,845 24,570
Depreciation and amortization 2,003 1,458
Loss from operations (1,734) (3,373)
Interest (income) expense, net (477) 1,069
Loss before income taxes (1,257) (4,442)
Income tax benefit (503) (1,713)
Income before extraordinary
item and cumulative effect of change
in accounting principle (754) (2,729)
Extraordinary loss on early
extinguishment of debt, net of tax of $410 (623) -
Cumulative effect of change in
accounting principle, net of tax of $950 - (1,449)
Net loss $(1,377) $(4,178)

Net loss per common share - basic and diluted:
Loss before extraordinary item and cumulative
effect of change in accounting principle $ (0.05) $ (0.17)
Extraordinary loss on early extinguishment
of debt, net of tax (0.03) -
Cumulative effect of change in accounting
principle, net of tax - (0.09)
Net loss per common share -
basic and diluted $ (0.08) $ (0.26)

Weighted average common shares
outstanding - basic and diluted 16,669 16,253

Note: The Company's inventories are determined by the retail method on
the last-in, first-out (LIFO) basis. The difference in inventories
between the LIFO method and the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method was
not material as of April 29, 2000 or May 1, 1999.

WILSONS THE LEATHER EXPERTS INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(In Thousands)

April 29, January 29, May 1,
2000 2000 1999
ASSETS (Unaudited) (a) (Unaudited)
Current Assets:
Cash and cash equivalents $ 71,647 $ 124,926 $ 92,789
Accounts receivable, net 5,642 7,547 2,603
Inventories 84,897 79,221 72,322
Prepaid expenses 6,995 8,477 6,372
Deferred income taxes 663 663 -
Total current assets 169,844 220,834 174,086

Property and equipment, net 54,970 49,587 37,275
Other assets 1,672 2,133 3,222
Total Assets $ 226,486 $ 272,554 $ 214,583

LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY
Current Liabilities:
Accounts payable $ 12,058 $ 10,912 $ 8,575
Accrued expenses 30,526 47,722 27,171
Income taxes payable 18,934 35,345 11,763
Deferred income taxes - - 4,247
Total current liabilities 61,518 93,979 51,756

Long-term debt 30,590 43,890 65,450
Other long-term liabilities 3,504 3,478 3,216
Shareholders' equity 130,874 131,207 94,161
Total Liabilities and
Shareholders' Equity $ 226,486 $ 272,554 $ 214,583


(a) - Derived from the audited consolidated financial statements Note: The Company's inventories are determined by the retail method on the last-in, first-out (LIFO) basis. The difference in inventories between the LIFO method and the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method was not material as of April 29, 2000, January 29, 2000 or May 1, 1999.