Bare Escentuals’ net income gained 26 percent in the first quarter, as the mineral makeup firm continued to expand its retail distribution in the U.S. and abroad.

The firm’s profits for the quarter ended March 30 reached $25.8 million, or 28 cents a diluted share, from $20.4 million, or 22 cents. Net sales for the quarter gained 21 percent to $140.4 million from $115.6 million in the year-ago period.

During the quarter, Bare Escentuals completed a test at Selfridges in London, and it expects to roll out to about 10 U.K. department stores by yearend, chief executive officer Leslie Blodgett told analysts Thursday. She added the company plans to expand its international reach to Spain and Canada, where it will launch on TV airwaves first and then to retail doors, including select Shoppers Drug Mart stores. Blodgett said that for the first time, international quarterly sales accounted for 10 percent of total company sales.

In the U.S., Bare Escentuals continued to battle the presence of its kits at Costco and Target stores, and said it has determined with a high degree of certainty the source of the diverted products and that it ceased doing business with that distributor in the third quarter of 2007.

Bare Escentuals is fine-tuning a new infomercial, which it will begin testing in mid-May. It also has plans to create an infomercial spotlighting RareMinerals. The company launched the franchise in 2003 with a nighttime treatment product and recently added RareMinerals Blemish Therapy and Facial Cleanser. Blodgett said it is on track to double in size this year.

The company said it continues to anticipate sales growth of 20 to 25 percent compared with fiscal 2007.

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