Austin Reed in profit as confidence returns

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The Independent Online
A RECOVERY of confidence among shoppers helped Austin Reed, the upmarket clothing retailer, to return to the black in the first half of the year despite a fall-off in manufacturing exports, writes Heather Connon.

Sales in the Austin Reed chain rose 10.4 per cent to pounds 23.6m, although half of the increase was due to new openings. Margins improved by a 'couple of percentage points' and the chain made a pounds 140,000 profit compared with a pounds 711,000 loss the previous year.

Chris Thomson, finance director, said the increase reflected a recovery in confidence, improved stock management and a new advertising strategy.

The group is experimenting with specialist womenswear and men's leisure outlets.

Overall, the group made pounds 500,000 before tax compared with a pounds 400,000 loss last time. Earnings per share were 1.1p (1.1p loss). The interim dividend was held at 2p despite an increase in the share capital following enfranchisement of the non-voting shares in June. The shares gained 17p to 149p.