Coachmen Industries Inc. reported its RV sales revenue declined 34% during the first three months of this year to $107.2 million.

The company, which also builds modular homes and structures, reported its total sales declined 24% to $154.8 million.

Coachmen reported a first quarter loss of $4.9 million, compared with a profit of $4 million earned during the first quarter of 2000. Its modular homes and structures business was profitable, but not enough to offset the losses at its RV operations.

“The economic and business environment for the entire RV industry continues to be a challenge, although we are beginning to see intermittent signs, including recent interest rate reductions, that suggest there may be improvement in the second half of the year,” said Claire Skinner, chairman, president and CEO.

During the first three months of this year, Coachmen’s RV operations “were successful in reducing finished goods inventories by about $7 million, albeit with higher selling expenses,” according to Skinner.

Coachmen’s RV operations also are “aggressively pursuing product development activities for accelerated 2002 model introductions which will help relieve the normal margin pressures that accompany the model year ‘sell-down’ process,” she added.

Additionally, Coachmen has suspended or eliminated production of RV products that it considers “small volume series.” Model year 2002 units or new models that were introduced during the industry’s national trade show last November, will replace those products.

Coachmen’s RV industry employment was 28.8% lower during the first quarter of this year than it was a year-earlier because of the elimination of 866 RV sector jobs, according to the company.