By and  on May 2, 2007

Shoe and accessories retailer Steven Madden Ltd. announced on Tuesday a 12 percent drop in first-quarter earnings due to weakness in women's boots, men's sport fusion product and Betsey Johnson handbags, while Kenneth Cole Productions said first-quarter earnings rose 10 percent on strong revenue gains.

For the three months ended March 31, earnings at Steven Madden fell to $9.5 million, or 43 cents a diluted share, from $10.9 million, or 50 cents, in the year-ago period. Sales for the quarter decreased 1.5 percent, to $106.7 million from $108.3 million, while same-store sales dipped 1.7 percent. Wholesale revenue was down slightly, to $82.3 million from $83 million last year, hurt by the discontinuation of Rule and L.E.I.

The company expects full-year earnings in the range of $2 to $2.10 a diluted share.

Kenneth Cole Productions said its first-quarter earnings climbed to $3.4 million, or 17 cents a diluted share, from $3.1 million, or 15 cents, in last year's period as revenue gained 6 percent, to $129.3 million from $122.6 million. Total same-store sales dropped 1.5 percent. Wholesale revenue increased 9 percent, to $82.9 million from $75.9 million a year ago.

The company announced it would assume control of its men's collection sportswear business and plans to start shipments beginning with the spring 2008 season. This venture is expected to cost about $7 million this year.

"We are enthusiastic about men's collection sportswear," chairman and chief executive officer Kenneth Cole said in a statement. "This is a unique opportunity to take control of an existing, developed, yet underpenetrated business with significant growth opportunities."

The company expects second-quarter earnings in the range of 14 cents to 16 cents a diluted share.

Separately, Kenneth Cole Productions hired Marty Nealon as the divisional president of its full-price retail stores and e-commerce businesses. Nealon has consulted with the company on strategic initiatives since August.

For four years, she was president and ceo of U.S. operations at the Home Shopping Network, and before that, for six years was chief operating officer of Claire's North America, where she was responsible for merchandising and support operation for all 2,600 stores in the U.S.

Nealon is based in New York and reports to Cole.She succeeds Joshua Schulman, former president of Kenneth Cole New York, who took the post of ceo of Jimmy Choo last month. The rest of Schulman's responsibilities have yet to be assigned.

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