Jacuzzi Brands announced sales and operating increases for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 ended Dec. 31.

Sales for the bath products segment rose 18.2%, which the company attributed to the rollout of the Jacuzzi® whirlpool bath product line at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse home centers, higher bath sales in the United Kingdom and increased sales of Sundance® and Jacuzzi outdoor spas.

Sales for the plumbing products business were up 10.9% for the quarter, despite continued softness in the U.S. commercial and institutional markets. Higher sales were due primarily to increased market share, particularly in the commercial brass and Wilkins™ product lines.

In addition, both the company's bath products and plumbing products segments reported increased operating income in the first quarter of fiscal 2004.

The improvement in operating income for the bath products business resulted from higher sales, cost reductions related to completion of several sourcing initiatives and improved productivity, most notably in the new whirlpool bath manufacturing facility in Chino, Calif., the company said. This was partially offset by restructuring charges and other charges in connection with the bankruptcy of a distributor and staffing reductions in South America.

Increased operating income for the plumbing products business was due to higher sales, partially offset by small increases in overhead related to employee benefits and fortifying this segment's marketing infrastructure, the company said.

“The first quarter of our fiscal 2004 reflects the long-term operating benefits that are beginning to be seen from our restructuring and reorganization efforts,” David H. Clarke, chairman and CEO of Jacuzzi Brands, said in a statement. “Our primary focus continues to be to increase revenue and market share, expand margins, de-lever the balance sheet and improve our bottom line results.”

Jacuzzi Brands' products are marketed under brands including Jacuzzi®, Sundance®, Eljer®, Zurn®, Sanitan®, Astracast®, and Rainbow®. For more information, visit www.jacuzzibrands.com.