Timberland sales rise $5.2m

Thanks to a spurt in European sales and accessories, The Timberland Company reported Thursday $5.2 million quarterly net income, or a dollar per diluted share — an increase of 38 percent.The Stratham-based casual footwear and apparel company sold $432.3 million worth of merchandise, a 2.5 percent increase from the third quarter of 2009. But in addition to a little more than a $10 million boost in sales, the company was able to pay nearly $3.5 million less in taxes, cutting its effective rate down from 38.2 percent to 27.6 percent. Sales actually declined in North America by 3.6 percent from the same quarter the previous year, but they rose 5 percent in Europe, where sales are now $20 million higher than they are in North America. Similarly, footwear sales were flat globally, while apparel and accessories sales rose by 11 percent, year over year.Indeed, at this point, socks count for a quarter of the sales of a company known for its boots.Timberland is trying to increase footwear sales by promoting specialty lines, particularly its Earthkeepers brand, with an environmentally-focused marketing campaign, “Nature Needs Heroes.”“Earthkeepers products are flying off the shelf,” said chief executive Jeffrey Swartz in a conference call following the earnings release. The line quadrupled Timberland’s revenues, and it represents 10 percent of North American business.One analyst during the call was concerned about the company’s 19 percent growth in inventory. But Swartz, without giving any guidance about future sales, emphasized that at lease one of the reasons was an increase in backlog. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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