NEW YORK — Healthy full-priced selling and increases in both customer transactions and average order size propelled Bluefly Inc.’s revenues to a 21.5 percent increase in the first quarter, helping the company to narrow its quarterly net loss.

For the three months ended March 31, Bluefly reported a net loss of $893,000, or 13 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.1 million, or 15 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Per-share results in both quarters included preferred stock dividends.

Total quarterly revenues rose to $13.5 million from $11.1 million in the first quarter of 2004.

The company’s operating loss improved by 48.1 percent in the quarter to $736,000 from a loss of $1.4 million a year ago. Bluefly cited strong gross profits, which totaled $4.9 million, an increase of 29.2 percent year-over-year, as a reason for the improvement. Gross margin, as a percent of sales, expanded to 36.2 percent from 34 percent last year.

New York-based Bluefly offers branded and designer merchandise on its Web site for as much as 75 percent off regular retail prices.

“During the first quarter, we built upon the momentum that we created during this past holiday season,” Melissa Payner, chief executive officer, said in a written statement. “We accelerated our growth while continuing to improve our margins, and these improvements fell directly to the bottom line.”

During the quarter, Bluefly saw acquisitions by new customers increase 10.3 percent to 36,765, while its gross average order size totaled $200.06, up 5.5 percent from the year-ago first quarter.

Payner said Bluefly plans to increase customer loyalty during the rest of the year via improvements to its Web site, bluefly.com. “Our new boutiques section will highlight fully merchandised outfits focused on the latest trends, allowing customers to purchase either the entire outfit or any part of it,” she said.

This story first appeared in the May 4, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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