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Sales, profits down at Lifetime Brands Inc.

Jeffrey Siegel, chief executive of Lifetime Brands Inc.,

Jeffrey Siegel, chief executive of Lifetime Brands Inc., of Garden City. Credit: Danny Ghitis, 2010

Sales and profits at Garden City-based Lifetime Brands Inc. dipped in the first quarter, clipped by a weak economy in the United Kingdom and the European Union's higher duties on ceramic products, the company said Thursday.

The kitchenware and home goods company said sales for the quarter ended March 31 were $98.7 million, a drop of 9.5 percent from the $109 million reported a year earlier.

Lifetime Brands also posted a loss of $632,000, or 5 cents per share, in the quarter, compared to a profit of $1.3 million, or 11 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. The company missed analysts' revenue forecast of $112 million.

Chief executive Jeffrey Siegel said that the quarter's results were in line with the company's expectations and reiterated the company's 2013 sales forecast of a 4 percent to 6 percent increase.

Revenue and income decreases were partly caused by a decline in private-label programs -- products made by Lifetime Brands but carrying a store's brand -- at a particular domestic retailer, he said during a conference call.

In addition, sales at Creative Tops, a British tableware and kitchenware company acquired by Lifetime Brands in 2011, fell by $3.8 million. Creative Tops sells to retailers worldwide, including supermarkets and department stores in the United Kingdom and Europe. Weakness in the United Kingdom's economy played a role, Siegel said.

The company expects that kitchenware lines it has begun to roll out in the United Kingdom will eventually help offset losses from ceramic sales, Siegel said.

"It's going to take U.K. retailers and consumers several months to adjust to higher prices," Siegel said.

The company's stock closed Thursday at $12.47, down $1.10.

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