Footwear retailerd kick gloomy trend into touch
Footwear retailer C&J Clark has managed to grow profits by more than 20 per cent, against a background of general trading gloom. The group, which operates the Clarks and Ravel brands, boosted turnover for the year to January 31 to£954.8 million, compared with£943.1 million a year before.

Profit before tax rocketed from£75.6 million for the previous 12 months to£91.8 million in the last financial year, before exceptional items are deducted.

UK turnover rose 2 per cent, but overseas earnings, which make up more than 50 per cent of the retailer's business, dropped marginally. This was partly a because of the weakness of the dollar, the retailer said.

Chairman Roger Pedder said UK trading started sluggishly but picked up in the latter half of the year. He said: 'The UK division experienced a difficult first half due to a combination of weather related sluggish demand and some gaps in our Women's range. But registered a robust recovery in the second half, due to yet another children's back-to-school record and a cracking women's casual boot range.'

The news comes as nearest rival Stylo reported a significant turnaround, going into the black for the first time since 2003.

The retailer reported a turnover for the 52 weeks to January 29 of£236.8 million before exceptionals, up from£232.6 million the year before.

The retailer which trades under the Barratts and Shelleys brands, conerted a pre-tax loss of£2.8 million in the equivalent period a year before, to a profit of£3.59 million.