by Stephen Garner

J. CrewStruggling retailer J.Crew saw an increase in its sales for the first quarter — mainly due to a staggering increase in its Madewell brand.

The younger, more casual Madewell brand, which relies heavily on its denim business, said same-store sales increased 39 percent to $115.8 million in the first quarter. The brand’s comparable sales increased 31 percent following an increase of 11 percent in the first quarter last year.

But the company’s flagship namesake brand reported a sales decrease of 7 percent to $391.9 million for the quarter, with comparable sales decreasing 6 percent following a decrease of 11 percent in the first quarter last year.

Total revenues for the company still managed to increase 3 percent, however, to $540.5 million. Comparable company sales increased 1 percent following a decrease of 8 percent in the first quarter last year.

“2018 represents a pivotal year for the company and we are encouraged by our strong start, delivering a 28 percent increase in adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter,” said Jim Brett, chief executive officer of J.Crew Group. “Most significantly, for the first time since 2014, the company achieved comparable sales growth. As our strategy continues to unfold, we will deliver an expanded and enhanced product range along with the launch of a data-driven personalization engine and point-based loyalty program, culminating in the J.Crew brand relaunch in September, just in time for the most important fall and holiday seasons.”