Hampshire Group Ltd. on Monday said a weak retail market and bankruptcies among its retail customers caused lagging sales as its first-quarter losses more than doubled.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the quarter ended March 28, the Anderson, S.C.-based manufacturer’s net loss grew to $7.8 million, or $1.42 a diluted share, from $3.8 million, or 42 cents a share, a year ago.

Sales in the three months fell 26.9 percent to $29.1 million from $39.8 million in the comparable period.

The 2009 loss included nonoperational costs of $1 million related to the knitwear’s firm aborted merger with NAF Holdings LLC.

NAF, an investment fund headed by Efrem Gerszberg, had sought to purchase Hampshire in a tender offer worth about $30.4 million. The deal, which would have taken the company private, fell through in April.

Excluding the NAF charge and another $1.9 million in special costs, the company’s pretax loss from continuing operations was $4.7 million in the first quarter versus $5 million in 2008. It said the reduction in its continuing operations loss was the result of efforts to cut selling, general and administration expenses.

Hampshire manufacturers private label merchandise for stores such as Kohl’s and Macy’s and licenses the Dockers and Geoffrey Beene brands for men’s sweaters, among its other operations.