Alexon has unveiled a lacklustre set of interim results after “a challenging trading period”.

The fashion group reported a like-for-like sales drop of 7.3 per cent in the 26 weeks to July 26.

Group operating profit slumped from£8.7 million in the same period last year to£5.2 million. Sales from continuing operations dropped to£123.1 million versus£129.9 million in the previous year. Gross margins improved by 0.9 per cent.

The retailer reported that it had an ungeared balance sheet with net cash of£4.7 million.

Operating profits at Alexon Brands was£6.7 million against£7.4 million last year. Like-for-likes were 4.1 per cent down on the prior year.

Minuet and Kaliko reported a “small” like-for-like growth, while Alex & Co and Eastex reported a “small” like-for-like fall, according to the retailer. Dash posted a single digit like-for-like decline. Ann Harvey had a “disappointing” first half with sales below expectations, it reported.

Bay Trading recorded a like-for-like sales fall of 14.5 per cent. Operating loss was£1.4 million against a profit of£1.2 million last year.

In the first eight weeks of the second half, like-for-like sales at the Alexon brands and Bay Trading are down 3.3 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively.

Chief executive Jane McNally, who joined the retailer in June after the retirement of John Osborn, has strengthened the operational management team to include three brand directors. Former New Look and Primark womenswear director Jane Eskriett will head up Bay Trading and Ann Harvey. Charlotte Davis, in a buying role at M&S at present, will run Kaliko and Minuet. Alexon Group fashion director Hanna Obdam will manage Eastex, Dash and Alex & Co.

McNally said: “This is a challenging trading period for retailers. However, the Alexon brands are in an attractive demographic market sector and I am confident that the group has excellent prospects over the medium and long term.”