Leather apparel retailer Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc has posted a lower third quarter loss for 2003, down to $11.6 million form $17m in the same period last year.

The Minneapolis-based company, which operates 607 permanent retail outlets across the United States, attributed the narrowed loss to progress in implementing new business improvement strategies.

"The actions we've taken to lower our cost base and tighten our inventories have significantly improved our liquidity position entering the fourth quarter and further enable us to drive an increase in product margins," CEO Joel Waller said.

For the first weeks of November, Wilsons' same-store sales fell 15.1 per cent year-on-year, while net sales fell 11 per cent to $97.9m compared to the same period last year.