Fashion faux-pas causes Bay Trading sales slump

The trend for cargo pants and string vests left customers cold at Bay Trading, leading to a fall in sales at the Alexon-owned chain for the first half.

Alexon finance director Robin Piggott said recent fashions, although a hit with younger girls, did not appeal to customers aged 20 to 30.

'The decline in sales was 50 per cent our mistake,' he said. 'Our fashion offer was too narrow and we neglected our older customers. But 50 per cent was because of the difficult fashion market.'

The autumn/winter collection has been broadened and present trading is promising, he added.

Like-for-like sales at Bay Trading fell 7 per cent in the 26 weeks to July 26. Operating profit fell to£600,000 from£1.4 million for the same period last year.

However, overall interim sales at Alexon were up 3 per cent for the period, to£188.6 million compared with£182.4 million. Interim operating profit was up 13 per cent to£11.2 million.

Meanwhile, Alexon's Dolcis business turned in a profit of£600,000 against a loss of£900,000 in the first half of 2002.

Piggott attributed the success to a broader offer and a rationalisation of space.

The number of Dolcis stores has been reduced from 102 to 66 to focus on better-performing locations.

Alexon's menswear business continued to perform well, and there are plans for 90 Envy stores in the next three to four years.