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Alexon Group returns to profit

Alexon Group, the womenswear group which operates chains such as Eastex, Ann Harvey and Kaliko, has returned to full-year profitability and named David Adams chairman.

Alexon, posted a pre-tax profit from continuing operations and after exceptionals of £100,000 in the year to January 29 versus a loss of £14.3m last year.

Turnover was down from £153.4m to £135.9m and like-for-likes fell 3.4%.

The retailer reported that progress was being made on its turnaround. Alexon has exited 51 loss-making leases saving £6.6m annually, refitted 51 concessions and stores and online sales leaped 144%.

According to Alexon Group chief executive Jane McNally, all chains, with the exceptions of Minuet and Dash are in line with or exceeding expectations.

Alexon has renegotiated its banking facilities and covenants with Barclays including an extra £2.5m one-year loan facility running until the end of April 2012 and a deferral of a £1.5m repayment due this July.

McNally said: “Despite another difficult year for the UK retail industry we are pleased that the group made further progress with its turnaround and returned to profitability.

“That said our performance was impacted not only by the challenging trading environment but by the severe weather in the last quarter which adversely affected profits and our cash position.”

She said that trading since the year end has been encouraging and “broadly in line with management expectations” and that new collections “have been well received by our host store partners”.

In December last year Alexon Group issued a profit warning after extreme weather conditions impacted sales in a peak trading period.

David Adams, who was already a non-executive director, will succeed Richard Handover as Alexon’s chairman from the end of May. Adams is currently chairman of camera specialist Jessops and was previously deputy chief executive and group finance director at House of Fraser.

Alexon Group owns 69 standalone stores, across all of its chains in the UK plus a further eight clearance outlets. It also operates 819 concessions across all chains plus 14 clearance concessions.

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