The company said it was optimistic but cautious about prospects because of a sharp rise in leather prices. John Church, chairman, said: 'Leather prices are extremely firm and if they hold, having risen between 7 and 10 per cent, they could be a potential problem.'
Group profits before tax in the six months to June rose from pounds 565,000 to pounds 864,000. Sales were pounds 1.6m higher at pounds 34.7m.
The Church and Jones shoe shops in Britain boosted their contribution to profits from pounds 279,000 to pounds 657,000.
'Retail trade in the UK continues to improve. We remain cautiously optimistic for the remainder of 1994,' Mr Church said.
Retail prices rose by 2 to 3 per cent. Church's men's shoes cost about pounds 170 a pair.
The performance in Britain more than compensated for lower returns from manufacturing and losses in the US, Canada and France. The manufacturing companies were squeezed by poor trading conditions in Europe and the US, although Mr Church said losses were being reduced in North America.
Losses were also reduced at Church's retail operation in France, while the company's Belgian subsidiary continued to be profitable.
Earnings per share improved from 2.8p to 5p but the interim dividend is being held at 3p.
The shares rose 15p yesterday to 500p.