Hudson's Bay Company is reporting first-quarter net earnings of $176 million and boosted its retail sales to $1.85 billion in the post-holiday period.

The retailer earned 97 cents per share in the quarter and that compares with a loss of 19 cents in the quarter a year ago on a net loss of $22 million.

The jump in retail sales to $1.85 billion is an increase of $971 million year-over-year.

Digital sales, important to the company's future growth, were $207 million in the quarter and included sales at Hudson's Bay Company, Saks and Lord & Taylor.

Same stores sales, which are stores that have been open for at least a year, were up 2.8 per cent year-over-year.

HBC said it completed the sale and lease back of its Queen Street flagship store and Simpson Tower office complex in Toronto for a purchase price of $650 million and used most of the net proceeds to reduce debt.

Completed Saks acquisition

The company completed its acquisition of luxury U.S. retailer Saks late in 2013 for $2.9 billion including debt and is planning to bring the brand to Canada.

"Overall first quarter performance was in the range of our expectations," HBC Governor and CEO Richard Baker said in a news release on Tuesday.

"We are encouraged by the business trends witnessed through the quarter, which bode well for the balance of this year," he said.

Baker also said the Hudson's Bay company wants to increase digital sales across its retail banners and growth will also include new stores in the United States and Canada.

New stores coming

The national retailer's banners — Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH — offer clothes, accessories, shoes, beauty and home merchandise.

Hudson's Bay has 90 full-line locations in Canada, one outlet store and thebay.com. Lord & Taylor operates 49 full-line locations primarily in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S., four Lord & Taylor outlet locations and lordandtaylor.com.

Saks Fifth Avenue has 39 U.S. stores, five international licensed stores and saks.com. OFF 5TH offers value-priced merchandise at 75 U.S. stores and saksoff5th.com.

HBC's Home Outfitters is Canada's largest kitchen, bed and bath specialty superstore with 69 locations.