West 49 Inc., the Canadian action sports chain, said net sales in its fourth quarter rose 0.8% to $62.4 million from $61.9 million for same period last year. Comparable store sales decreased 4.5%.

The company blamed the strong appreciation in the Canadian dollar, which rose to historical highs during the quarter, and cross border shopping for the drop in sales especially in Ontario, where a large number of its West 49 stores are located. Excluding Ontario, the West 49 banner posted comparable store sales growth of 3.7 per cent compared to fourth quarter in 2007.

The company is now operating 134 stores, up from 125 stores at the end of the fourth quarter the year before.

“Our top line results for the quarter finished in line with our expectations,” said Sam Baio, chief executive of West 49 Inc. “Nevertheless, we remain focused on improving our top line as we continue to adjust to the current environment in which we operate.”

For the fiscal year, net sales increased 4.9% to $204.9 million from $195.3 million last year.

West 49 Inc.'s fourth quarter and fiscal year-end earnings are expected to be reported in mid-April.