By  on March 2, 2005

NEW YORK — United Retail Group Inc., lifted by strong holiday sales and effective expense management, reported improved results on Tuesday reflecting a fourth-quarter profit from its year-ago loss, as well as narrowing its full-year loss.

In the 13 weeks ended Jan. 29, the Rochelle Park, N.J.-based company earned $697,000, or 5 cents a diluted share, compared with a loss of $4 million, or 31 cents, in the same year-ago quarter. Total revenues in the quarter rose by 6.4 percent to $107.9 million from $101.4 million, while same-store sales rose 8 percent.

“Certain holiday categories, such as sweaters, coats and fashion accessories, posted solid improvements in sales over last year,’’ Raphael Benaroya, president and chief executive officer of United Retail, said in a statement. “In addition, throughout the quarter, spring transition merchandise worked well and produced strong year-to-year sales increases in the warmer regions of the country.”

For the year, United Retail lost $10.5 million, or 82 cents a share, compared with a loss of $19.1 million, or $1.47, in 2003. Total annual sales were up 0.8 percent to $399.3 million, while same-store sales gained 2 percent.

United Retail, which operates the Avenue line of plus-size women’s apparel stores in 513 stores, also said that February same-store sales jumped 13 percent.

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