The trying times at retail pushed Jones Apparel Group to earnings and sales declines in the first quarter and prompted the firm to temper its 2008 guidance.

Earnings fell 59.2 percent to $19.5 million, or 23 cents a diluted share, as sales for the three months ended April 5 slid 9.6 percent to $975.4 million. The exit of some of the firm’s moderate sportswear lines chopped about $100 million off the top-line sales figure.

“We maintained tighter inventory controls; however, markdown support to our retail partners was higher than during the first quarter of 2007 and our retail operations continued to trend negatively,” said Wesley Card, president and chief executive officer.

The firm, which produces the Jones New York, Anne Klein and Bandolino brands, among others, is now projecting adjusted 2008 earnings of $1.20 to $1.35 a share, down from the $1.25 to $1.50 previously expected. Adjusted earnings in 2007 weighed in at $1.26.

For complete coverage, see Thursday’s issue of WWD.


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