By  on November 17, 2008

Tandy Brands Accessories Inc. managed to cut back on its expenses faster than customers cut back on orders, allowing the company to trim its first-quarter loss by more than a quarter.

In the three months ended Sept. 30, the Arlington, Tex.-based firm registered a net loss of $1.3 million, or 18 cents a diluted share, below the loss of $1.7 million, or 25 cents, logged in the comparable year-ago period.

Sales fell 12.3 percent during the quarter to $34.6 million from $39.5 million in last year’s quarter.

“The decline in net sales is a direct result of the current difficult retail environment as several customers continue to be very cautious in expanding inventories going into the holiday season,” said J.S.B. Jenkins, chairman. “In addition, first-quarter 2009 net sales were impacted by the timing of product shipments to certain customers that moved from the first quarter last year to the second quarter this year.”

However, the firm cut back on the cost of goods sold by 15.1 percent, to $22.6 million, and on selling, general and administrative expenses by 14.1 percent, to $12.4 million. Gross margin improved to 34.7 percent of sales from 32.5 percent in the prior-year period.

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