The womenswear company, which owns the Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Planet and Precis brands, reported that sales rose 1.8% to £58.8 million with flat like-for-likes for the first half to October 27. Pre-tax profit excluding exceptionals fell back from £2.5m in the first half of 2006 to £1.7m in the first half of 2007.
However, following the 26 week trading period and in the run up to Christmas, sales fell back 2.2% against the previous year. The company said this was largely as a result of lighter markdowns in a competitive environment, but added that this meant that gross margin was 2.7% ahead for the 10 weeks from October 27.
Jacques Vert chairman Steve Bodger said: "The group's trading performance in the first half reflects a creditable performance in an extremely challenging retail environment. Given the importance of trading in the final quarter to the group's result we continue to be cautious about the remainder of the year."
Chief executive Paul Allen added: "The final quarter is the key trading period for the group and the board expects that the uncertain market conditions will continue for the remainder of the financial year. However we aim to continue to building on the strong cash performance in the first half, which should place the group in a good position to take advantage of opportunities that may arise."