Alexon back in expansion mode after 25% profit rise

Fashion group Alexon has pledged to power ahead with expansion plans on the back of a 25 per cent increase in operating profits.

As the shoe, womenswear and menswear retail group reported preliminary results, it detailed plans to increase outlet numbers by between 180 and 200. At present, there are 1,444, including European concessions.

Overall, the group's operating profit, before amortisation of goodwill, climbed from£24.2 million to£30.3 million in the 52 weeks to January 25.

Finance director Robin Piggott said the retailer was especially pleased with the performance of the Dolcis footwear chain, which turned a loss of£600,000 into a profit of£2 million over the period.

'We made changes to the buying team and broadened the range,' Piggott said. 'Previously, (Dolcis) was too concentrated on the teen market.'

The group's other main fascias - Bay Trading and Envy - also made gains, with Bay Trading doubling operating profit.

Alexon hopes to build on the success by increasing its number of standalone stores and concessions in department stores.

According to broker Seymour Pierce, the retailer plans to double Envy store numbers from 50 to 100, and increase the number of Bay Trading stores by 38 to 180.

Bay concessions will grow from 54 to 75 and menswear concessions will increase by an as yet unspecified number.

The expansion marks a shift in approach for the retailer, which went down the acquisition trail and bought Dolcis, Bay Trading and menswear arms in 1999. Piggott confirmed that there are no plans for acquisitions at present.