By  on February 1, 2008

ATLANTA—Gildan Activewear Inc. reported a 76.3 percent surge in first-quarter net earnings to $27.5 million, or 23 cents per share, from $15.6 million, or 13 cents per share, in the year-ago first quarter.

The Montreal-based company, reporting results in U.S. dollars, said sales rose 34.8 percent to $250.5 million from $185.8 million, thanks in part to an increase of 92.7 percent, or $39.4 million, in sock sales because of the acquisition of Alabama-based, hosiery company V. I. Prewett & Son, as well as new retail sock programs obtained in fiscal 2007. Also, unit sales volumes for activewear rose 13.7 percent, and activewear unit selling prices rose approximately 2.5 percent.

Gildan said the growth in activewear unit sales was due primarily to continuing market penetration in all product categories in the U.S. wholesale distributor channel. During the first quarter, Gildan obtained its first underwear program with a U.S. national mass-market retailer. Those shipments are expected to begin in May 2008.

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