Oasis sales perk up

A NEW BLUE store design is helping boost sales at Oasis Stores, the women's fashion retailer. Oasis has been testing four outlets with a fascia in two shades of blue instead of the plum and cream design on the rest of the chain.

This makeover, together with a redesigned store interior, has lifted sales and the new frontage is to be rolled out across the entire 137 store portfolio. "The new look has been well received by our customers and initial sales confirm this," the company said.

The news accompanied a strong set of full year results from Oasis which is gradually recovering after two profits warnings in 1997. Pre-tax profits rose by 25 per cent to pounds 13m and like-for-like sales rose by 9 per cent. There was further good news on current trading with same-store sales up by 6 per cent in the first 8 weeks of the current year, though the figures are flattered by weak sales comparisons last year.

The trading update boosted Oasis shares by 1.5p to 186.5pcompared to their 117p low in November.

There has been speculation that the Bennett brothers, who control 23 per cent of the company, may be looking to sell the business but Oasis would not comment on the ownership question yesterday. However, it claims to have a succession plan in place for the retirement of the chairman and chief executive who are aged 66 and 65 respectively.

The possibility of a bid adds further support to the shares which are still suffering from a low rating. On current year profit forecasts of pounds 15m, they trade on a forward multiple of less than 10 and yield almost 5 per cent. That is still good value.