Etam ahead despite static sales

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ETAM, the women's fashion retailer, refused to emulate its rivals by discounting stock and holding mid-season sales last year, writes Heather Connon. That helped it to report a 28 per cent rise in profits to pounds 14m, on static sales, in the year to 29 January.

Keith Miles, finance director, said the group was considering ways of boosting sales, which reached pounds 220.3m last year, by refurbishing stores, opening new ones and researching its customers. He said the group would continue to monitor costs and said: 'We have no intention of giving away margin.'

Earnings per share were 13.57p, up from 10.29p, and the final dividend is increased by 0.5p to 5.75p for a total of 7.5p (6.9p).

Austin Reed, the fashion retailer, increased profits from pounds 1.2m to pounds 6.9m, helped by a pounds 2.8m gain on selling a lease in the City to Tesco. Operating profits from its fashion business rose from pounds 2.9m to pounds 5.1m. Earnings per share were 9.8p (3.1p) and the final dividend is 3.5p (3p).