In an increasingly competitive jeans market, Baltimore-based sportswear maker I. C. Isaacs & Co. Inc. reported a first-quarter net loss yesterday of $2.9 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with net income of $700,000, or 9 cents per share, posted for the first quarter of 1998.
The company said sales of Marithe and Francois Girbaud brands were strong, at $3.4 million in the quarter that ended March 31, compared with $4.7 million during all of last year. But sales of the BOSS and Beverly Hills Polo Club lines were $14.5 million less than last year's first quarter.
Net sales in the quarter were $22.5 million, compared with $34.3 million reported for the corresponding period a year ago.
"We are undertaking creative new marketing initiatives for the BOSS brand. For example, we are increasing sponsorship of community events, launching a new radio campaign and constructing a Web site," said Robert J. Arnot, chairman and chief executive officer. "As a result of the competitive retail climate and continued expenses related to positioning Girbaud as a first-tier designer brand, we expect to report a net loss for the second quarter of 1999 similar to the loss reported for the first quarter of 1999."
Isaacs is not the only jeans manufacturer that has felt the competition. Denim giant Levi Strauss & Co., based in San Francisco, announced in February that sales were down 13 percent last year, to $6 billion, and that it would lay off 5,900 employees in the United States and Canada -- nearly a third of its North American work force.
The company saw high-end designers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren take a larger piece of the jeans market, along with growing competition by less expensive lines by Sears, Roebuck and Co. and J. C. Penney.
Shares of I. C. Isaacs closed at $1.3125, up 6.25 cents yesterday.
Pub Date: 5/08/99