Womenswear retailer Jacques Vert made a full-year pre-tax loss of £2.9m, compared with a profit of £4.3m the year before, after incurring exceptional charges of £4.9m, mostly related to leases.

In the year to April 25, retail sales declined 3.5 per cent to £110.9m, while like-for-likes dropped 4.7 per cent. Operating profit before exceptional items nearly halved from £4.7m to £2.4m in the period.

The retailer, which owns the brands Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Planet and Precis, experienced a gross margin decline from 63 per cent to 61.5 per cent, due to promotional activity.

In the 10 weeks since April 25 the retailer performed better, with like-for-likes down 3.4 per cent, which the retailer said “reflects a continuation of the improving trend experienced during 2008/09”. Gross margin also improved to 64.7 per cent.

Chairman Steve Bodger, said: ”This year has been exceptionally challenging, in particular the period between September 2008 and early 2009, however Jacques Vert has performed creditably within this context.

Our brands have continued to make progress in the current Spring season and given our cash generation and balance sheet, that is stronger than ever, we have the financial strength to withstand the current economic uncertainty and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise”.

The retailer made staff redundancies in the 12 month period that will make savings of around £800,000 a year.

Jacques Vert operated from around 1,000 outlets compared with around 940 the year before.