Internet and catalogue fashion retailer N Brown Group said total revenue increased by 4% to £363.7m in the half-year to 27th August.
Adjusting for the timing of the acquisition of Figleaves and the new High & Mighty stores, like-for-like revenue has grown by 1.5% in the first half.
The rate of gross margin has improved by 1.2% to 54.9% due to the strength of financial income revenue and a lower rate of charge for bad debts, offset by a higher level of promotional discounts.
Operating profit was up by 1.7% at £47m and profit before taxation was up by 5.9% to £44.8m. Excluding the fair value adjustment on foreign exchange contracts, but including the investments made in the business to drive long-term growth, profit before tax was £44m (2010, £44.1m) and adjusted earnings per share were 12.10p (2010, 12.15p).
There was a net cash outflow of £15.8m resulting in net borrowings of £196.7m (2010, £173.1m) on which net financial costs were £3.0m (2010, £2.1m) reflecting the higher margin payable on the 5-year securitisation facility renewed earlier this year.
Gearing was maintained at 53% based on net assets of £371.1m, up by 13.5%.
The interim dividend will be increased by 5% to 5.29p, moving towards the medium term target of a twice covered dividend.
Alan White, CEO, said: 'We have delivered a solid performance for the first half, driven primarily by increased online penetration and our younger titles. We are encouraged by the performance of our menswear catalogues, particularly Jacamo which recorded 66% sales growth, by the positive response that we have had in the US with Simply Be, and excited by the launch of our two new stores.
'Looking forward, in the short term we expect the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook to continue to impact consumer sentiment, which is demonstrated by the extremely volatile shopping patterns we have experienced in the first few weeks of the second half. However, we believe that our strategy to invest in the development of our brands, both nationally and internationally, the improvement of our online capability and the flexibility of our business model will mean we are well positioned for the future.'
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