US discount retailer Kmart, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last month, has reported a loss of US$862m for the first quarter to 30 April.

Troy, Michigan-based Kmart said its gross margin improved and it was working to reduce costs, but sales continued to decline in the first quarter.

Kmart recorded a loss of $1.65 per share including discontinued operations for the first quarter, or $1.63 per share excluding those results.

In the year-ago period Kmart recorded a loss of $1.44bn, including a charge of $542m for store closures. The loss was $2.87 per share including discontinued operations, or $2.37 excluding them.

Sales for the quarter were $6.18bn, down 13.9% from the year-ago period, mainly due to store closures. Same-store sales were down 3.2%.

The retailer said that excluding interest, reorganisation costs, income taxes and discontinued operations, its loss would have been $32m.

Kmart filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2002 and emerged last month with 600 fewer stores, $2bn in financing and a new management team, reported Reuters.