Womenswear retailer Jacques Vert will pay a dividend for the first time in 15 years following a swing to profit last year.

The retailer, which owns the Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Planet and Precis brands, proposed a dividend of 0.65p per share as it reported pre-tax profits of £5.1m in the year to April 24, compared with a £2.9m loss the previous year.

Jacques Vert’s sales jumped 4% to £115.3m and like-for-like sales climbed 2.8%. Sales have continued to rise in the nine weeks following the year-end, up 1.5% on a like-for-like basis and 3.9% in total.

The retailer said it will invest about £3m in its online operations, including an upgrade of its online platform. Jacques Vert chairman Steve Bodger said: “These are a strong set of results and a return to the dividend list after an absence of 15 years is a sign of the confidence we have in the business.”

Chief executive Paul Allen added: “Despite our strong start to the financial year, our outlook for the remainder of this year is cautious in view of the prevailing economic climate. Stock and costs have been controlled well, cash will continue to be managed carefully.”

Freddie George, analyst at house broker Seymour Pierce, said: “Following this update, we are raising our 2010/11 pre-tax profit from £5.2m to £5.5m.

“We believe the stock should have a similar rating to its peer group, which implies a price target of 28p.”