Analysts scrutinise Marchpole

THE CREDIBILITY of Marchpole, the retail group which designs and distributes Yves Saint Laurent menswear, was being questioned by City analysts yesterday after the group reported profits far below expectations.

Marchpole shares lost 54 per cent to close 22p lower at 18.5p. The shares were priced at 110p when the company came to the stock market in December. It blamed its profits shortfall on higher costs and the Asian crisis delaying development of its Japanese business. Half year profits fell to pounds 2.4m against pounds 4.9m last time and margins collapsed.

SG Securities, the company's original broker, quit in protest two months ago. Analysts questioned why Marchpole had delivered two statements in the last few months saying trading was healthy. Full year profits are now expected to be only pounds 8m instead of about pounds 16m.