ATLANTA -- Interface Inc. announced a decline in sales and operating income for the first quarter ended March 31, 2002. In addition, the company posted a net loss for the period.

Sales in the first quarter 2002 were $234.4 million, compared with $306.5 million in the first quarter 2001. Operating income was $10.5 million in the first quarter 2002, vs. $17.1 million in the first quarter 2001. Net loss for the first quarter 2002 was $100,000, or 0 cents per diluted share, compared with first quarter 2001 net income of $4.4 million, or $0.09 per diluted share.

"In the first quarter 2002, we continued to feel the effects of the difficult conditions in the commercial interiors industry,¿ said Daniel T. Hendrix, Interface president and CEO. ¿We remain cautious due to the typical lag-time between general economic recovery and visible improvement within the commercial interiors industry. ¿However, we are encouraged to see that our order levels have achieved stability and, in some cases, have shown improvement. In particular, there have been notable upturns recently in our fabrics and U.S. broadloom businesses, as customers are beginning to lift the economy-driven delays they previously had placed on their projects. Moreover, sales and profitability in our modular business remain healthy."

Hendrix added that, although market conditions remain difficult to predict, Interface anticipates improvements in both revenues and earnings going forward.

¿We expect revenue for the second quarter to be between $235 million and $245 million, and earnings to be in line with street estimates,¿ he said. ¿Overall, we believe our market segmentation strategy and lean operating structure have us well positioned for the remainder of the year."