Womenswear group Alexon recorded a rise in profits for the 26 weeks to July 31 despite tough trading conditions.

The retailer, which owns brands such as Ann Harvey and Eastex, recorded a pre-tax profit of £950,000 - up from the £907,000 it posted over the same period the year before.

Alexon’s like-for-likes fell 5.5%. Gross margins dropped 1.9%.

The group, which posted revenues of £69.7m, said the loss of high summer stock due to disruptions such as air transportation issues and tight working capital control before the group’s refinancing in March led to lower sales during the period.

Alexon, which opened 50 new concessions in the first half of the year with 62 planned for the second half of the year, said the group had opened a stock clearance site on marketplace Ebay during the period. Total online sales were up 130% year on year. The group said is online offer will be strengthened by the appointment of an ecommerce director, which is said it will announce shortly.

It said trading since the first half had been encouraging, with its autumn range seeing good take-up and like-for-like sales up 3.1% for the first seven weeks to September 18.  

Aelxon chief executve Jane McNally said: “We are pleased to have returned to operating profit in the first half of the year despite trading being impacted by a challenging market and restricted stock levels.

“Following our successful capital raising in March, we made good progress with the reorganisation of our property portfolio.

“We also began the necessary investment in our internal systems and infrastructure, including website development and a new logistics system as well as the continuation of our outlet refurbishment programme.”

“Despite the improved performance since the half year, we remain cautious about the second half given the uncertainty over the impact of planned government cuts and the expectation that the economic climate will remain tough for the immediate future.

“The Alexon brands are, however, uniquely positioned to capture a broad customer base in a growing sector. As such, we remain confident that there is great potential for future profit growth.”