NEW YORK--Escalating net sales and vibrant comparable-store results allowed Loehmann's Holdings Inc. to report earnings grew by almost two-thirds in the first quarter of fiscal 2002.For the three months ended May 4, the Bronx, N.Y.-based off-pricer reported net income surged 65.2 percent to $4.2 million, or $1.20 a diluted share. That compares with last year's profits of $2.5 million, or 76 cents.Net sales increased 6.4 percent to $93.4 million from $87.8 million a year ago. Loehmann's same-store sales gained 6.4 percent in the quarter."We are pleased with our first-quarter financial results," said chief executive officer Robert Friedman in a statement. "Our comp-sales increase of 6.4 percent reflects increased demand for our merchandise assortment as our customers continue to respond favorably to our designer and bridge and accessories assortments."Strong full-price selling and high rates of sell-through contributed to a gross margin gain of 220 basis points to 39.5 percent.In other news, Loehmann's has applied to the Nasdaq to have its shares listed, and the company plans to open a new location in Denver in August. Additionally, Loehmann's has entered into a contract to sell its building in the Bronx for about $4.5 million. The building had housed the company's warehouse operations until those were moved to New Jersey in January 2001. The building will continue to serve as Loehmann's corporate headquarters through a leaseback agreement.

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