For the first quarter, when excluding non-recurring acquisition and integration costs related to the Boston Proper acquisition, the Company reported net income of $51.7 million, a decrease of 4.2% compared to net income of $54.0 million in last year's first quarter, and earnings per diluted share of $0.32, flat to a record $0.32 per diluted share in last year's first quarter.
Including non-recurring acquisition and integration costs, the Company reported net income of $51.1 million, a decrease of 4.7% compared to net income of $53.6 million in last year's first quarter, and earnings per diluted share of $0.31, a decrease of 3.1% compared to $0.32 per diluted share in last year's first quarter.
For the first quarter, net sales were a record $670.7 million, an increase of 3.1% compared to $650.8 million in last year's first quarter, primarily reflecting 114 net new stores for a square footage increase of 9.0%.
Comparable sales for the first quarter were flat following a 9.6% increase in last year's first quarter, reflecting higher transaction count offset by a decrease in average dollar sale. The comparable sales results primarily reflect the impact of an unusually cool spring and the cycling of strong comparable sales last year.
The Chico's/Soma Intimates brands' comparable sales decreased 2.8% following an 8.8% increase in last year's first quarter for a two-year stack of 6.0% and the White House | Black Market ("WH|BM") brand's comparable sales increased 6.4% following an 11.3% increase in last year's first quarter for a two-year stack of 17.7%.
For the first quarter, gross margin was $386.8 million compared to $378.6 million in last year's first quarter. As a percentage of net sales, gross margin was 57.7%, a 50 basis point decrease from last year's first quarter, primarily reflecting higher promotion of seasonal merchandise during an unusually cool spring and investment in new distribution automation partially offset by lower incentive compensation.
Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
For the first quarter, selling, general and administrative expenses ("SG&A") were $304.9 million compared to $291.7 million in last year's first quarter. As a percentage of net sales, SG&A was 45.5%, a 70 basis point increase from last year's first quarter, primarily reflecting higher occupancy and marketing expenses as a percent of net sales partially offset by lower incentive compensation.
In-store inventory per selling square foot increased approximately 2.3% over the first quarter last year. At the end of the first quarter, total inventories were $243.5 million compared to $213.7 million at the end of the first quarter last year.
Inventories increased by $29.8 million, or 13.9%, primarily reflecting inventory to support a square footage increase of 9.0%. Excluding the impact of the calendar shift from last fiscal year's 53rd week, inventory increased approximately 9.2% from prior year.
Share Repurchase Program
During the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the Company repurchased 3.4 million shares for $60 million under its $300 million share repurchase program announced in February 2013, with $240 million remaining under the program as of the end of the first quarter.
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