FILA’S U.S. SALES RISE IN FIRST QUARTER

NEW YORK — Propelled by a 16 percent leap in U.S. apparel sales, Fila Holding SpA pared its first-quarter losses to $3.5 million from a loss of $8.7 million in the 1999 period.
Revenues for the Biella, Italy, company slid 5 percent to $258.2 million from $271.9 million during the three months. Figures were converted to U.S. dollars from Italian lira by Fila using average exchange rates during each period and were skewed by the strength in the U.S. dollar, which depreciated the Italian lira by 14 percent.
Overall sales climbed 8 percent to $228.7 million, including a 23 percent rise in apparel sales to $112 million, from $90.9 million. Footwear sales worldwide were down 3 percent to $116.7 million, from $120.6 million.
By region, U.S. sales were virtually even, at $50.2 million. Apparel sales were up 16 percent to $21.6 million, from $18.6 million in the year-ago period. European sales rose 1 percent to $119.1 million from $118.4 million. Other geographic regions produced the strongest gains, with an overall increase of 37 percent, including a 23 percent jump in apparel sales to $112.1 million.
Total backlog of customer orders for the athletic and casual footwear and apparel company as of March 31 was up 9 percent, the company said. Apparel increased 13 percent and footwear, 4 percent. U.S. backlog increased by 13 percent, with apparel climbing 46 percent and footwear down 11 percent.
Michele Scannavini, chief executive, said in a statement, “Our future orders are up in all geographic areas, with increases both in apparel and footwear. We are particularly pleased with the progress in the USA, where, after many difficult seasons, it looks like the brand is starting to regain credibility and the interest of both the trade and consumers.”
The company said income was hurt by the strengthening of the dollar against the lira, as well as by increases in selling, general and administrative expenses, which were up 11 percent during the quarter.