NEW YORK — Tighter controls on costs and improved margins helped reduce losses at Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. during its traditionally tepid first quarter.

Net losses of $16.1 million, or 36 cents per share, during the quarter compared with a year-ago deficit of $20.6 million, or 46 cents.

Sales for the quarter ended Aug. 31, plumped up 12.4 percent to $513 million from $456.3 million a year ago. Comparable-store sales inched up 1.7 percent.

Gross margins, exclusive of depreciation and amortization, expanded 70 basis points to 35.4 percent for the quarter. Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales decreased 140 basis points to 38.4 percent.

At the end of the quarter, the Burlington, N.J.-based off-pricer operated 324 stores in 42 states. During the period, Burlington Coat Factory added eight new doors, relocated two in the same market and closed three others.

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