In Shops, however, has continued to expand despite the recession, with new retail centres at Sutton Coldfield and Kings Heath opening fully let. Turnover rose by 10.5 per cent to pounds 12.2m.
Tim Brookes, chairman, said expansion had been concentrated in Scotland, the North and the Midlands, which had been less badly hit by the recession than southern retail centres.
'Fear of redundancy, little prospect of recovery, deteriorating house prices and record insolvencies is hardly the recipe for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish.'
He said customer numbers for the Christmas trading period were already showing a like-for-like increase over last year.
The 0.66p interim dividend was unchanged, with earnings per share down from 2.05p to 1.70p. The shares closed up 2p at 52p.