NEW YORK — Barneys New York Inc. reported Tuesday that its first-quarter bottom line sank $1.2 million, or 9 cents a share, into the red.

A $700,000 rise in interest and financing costs helped drag down results for the quarter. The increase related primarily to higher costs associated with a debt offering and the write-off of certain fees to amend the firm’s credit facility.

The quarterly loss compared with year-ago earnings of $478,000, or 3 cents. Sales for the three months ended May 3 dipped 1.2 percent to $91.4 million from $92.5 million a year ago. Comparable-store sales slid 1.5 percent.

“While 2003 began on a challenging note for the company, we are pleased to see some better sales trends as the year has progressed,” said chairman and chief executive Howard Socol in a statement.

“We successfully strengthened our balance sheet during the quarter,” he noted. “In addition, we continue to invest in growth opportunity businesses in our stores and to reduce our overhead expenses in an ongoing effort to positively impact our operating results.”

In April, the retailer said its offering of senior notes netted proceeds of approximately $81.9 million, which were used to repay a substantial portion of the the firm’s debt, including certain amounts outstanding under its credit facility, and to pay certain deferred rent obligations.

That same month, Barneys laid out plans to open a Co-op store in South Beach, Miami, in early September.

The luxury retailer has flagships here, in Beverly Hills and in Chicago, in addition to three regional full-price stores, two Co-op Barneys stores and 12 outlets.

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