Loss of Allders concessions blamed
Clothing retailer Jacques Vert has revealed total sales at its retail division down to£109 million for the year to April 29, versus£122.4 million the previous year.

The group said retail preliminary operating profit before exceptional items was£3.8 million, compared with£5.6 million last time.

The decline was partly due to the loss of 66 concessions that closed when the Allders department store chain folded last year, reducing the number of outlets Jacques Vert trades from.

Jacques Vert issued a profit warning earlier this year after its retail division performed badly in March and April - traditionally a time when sales are strong.

So far this financial year, like-for-like sales at the retail division are up 4.9 per cent over an 11-week period.

Group chief executive Paul Allen said: 'This has been achieved against a background of a continuing difficult retail environment and offers some encouragement for the new financial year.'

He said the retailer had made significant progress in dealing with two major legacy issues - the pension deficit and a liability for industrial disease claims.

Chairman Derek Lovelock said: 'The resolution of the pension deficit and industrial disease legacy issues marks an important milestone in the group's development. Releasing about£3 million in cash each year, previously required to fund these liabilities, will facilitate a greater level of investment in our key womenswear brands.'

Jacques Vert comprises a retail division selling womenswear brands Jacques Vert, Windsmoor, Planet and Précis, as well as a separate wholesale business.