A big sales gain helped workwear specialty retailer Duluth Holdings Inc. push fourth-quarter net income up 26.2 percent to $17.5 million, or 58 cents a diluted share, from $13.9 million, or 58 cents, a year ago.

Pro forma earnings per share totaled 37 cents and were much higher than the 28 cents FactSet projected. Fourth-quarter gross profit increased to $78.8 million, or 56.1 percent of net sales, compared with $61.3 million, or 55.7 percent, last year.

Net sales for the three months ended Jan. 31 increased 27.5 percent to $140.4 million from $110.1 million a year earlier. The FactSet estimate was for sales of $133 million.

For the full year, the company’s net sales rose 31.2 percent to $304.2 million.

“Fiscal 2015 was a milestone year for Duluth Trading,” said chief executive officer Stephanie Pugliese. “We became a publicly traded company, made great strides in increasing our brand awareness through highly successful marketing campaigns and opened three new stores bringing our total store count to nine. Our fourth-quarter net sales were up nearly 28 percent and we expanded our gross margin rate by 40 basis points.  The strong performance in both our direct and retail segments contributed to another record quarter and year of increased net sales.”

Looking ahead, the company projected fiscal 2016 sales of $370 million to $380 million. Earnings per share are forecast to be in the range of 66 cents to 70 cents per diluted share. Duluth also plans to open four to five new stores this year.

The stock is up 30 percent since the company went public in November. Following the earnings report Thursday, the stock was popping more than 8 percent to $19.25.