Jacques Vert, the womenswear group which includes brands Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Planet and Precis, delivered a like-for-like sales rise of 1.9% in the 11 weeks to January 8.

Jacques Vert said that sales up to the end of November were strong but that performance was impacted by the poor weather in December.

Sales in the three week period ending December 24 were “significantly” down on last year but rebounded in the two weeks following Christmas.

Gross margin during the 11 week period was lower than the same period the year before as the group reacted to higher levels of discounting by competitors and took action to keep stocks under control.

In the 26 weeks to October 23, profit before tax jumped 7% to £3.1m, on sales up 1.3% to £56.5m. Like-for-like sales rose 3.1% for the period.

Jacques Vert, which has about 900 stores in the UK, Canada and Republic of Ireland, said the strong performance was driven by its ecommerce business but was offset by the rationalisation of underperforming retail space.

Gross margins, which were down slightly at 65% from 65.3%, were affected by cost pressures in the supply chain.

Cash at the business improved and at the period end was £11.2m. The company invested £1.1m in new IT and ecommerce systems and its retail portfolio.

Chairman Steve Bodger said: “I am pleased to report a solid performance during the first half of the financial year. The group’s brands performed well in a competitive market and there is further scope for our online business to realise its full potential.

“Recent trading conditions have been more challenging and the economic outlook provides further concern; but we feel the strength of our brands and our financial position will stand us in good stead in the market.”