Profits take £7 million nosedive
Fashion group Alexon suffered a£7 million hit from its failed Mandolin chain as it revealed like-for-like sales were down 8 per cent for the first 11 weeks of the year's second half.

In its interim results for the 26 weeks to July 29, the multi-fascia retailer - whose brands include Dolcis and Bay Trading - said that, as expected, like-for-like sales were down 6.9 per cent, giving a pre-tax profit of£1 million, compared with£7.8 million for the same period last year.

The company added that overall sales were down 8.5 per cent on last year, due to 'particularly poor performances' from Dolcis, Mandolin and its menswear division.

Chief executive John Osborn heaped much of the blame for the slump in profit on Mandolin, where losses - including the cost of the chain's closure, which was revealed on October 4 - totalled£7 million.

'The Mandolin project placed a considerable burden on management resources within Alexon brands and some of the other brands have suffered as a direct consequence,' he added.

Osborn said that the poor figures at the Dolcis division, where like-for-like sales were down 7 per cent on the same time last year, were a result of low demand for the chain's summer shoe ranges. He added that autumn sales had also been 'slow to date'.

At the menswear division, like-for-like sales slumped 16 per cent, with the operating loss growing by£2 million to£3.5 million. Osborn said this was due to 'costly mistakes in autumn last year'.

However, he added that stock 'imbalance' had been rectified and that menswear was the best-performing division in the current half of the year, 'well-placed for the critical Christmas trading period'.

Osborn cited the 'unseasonably warm weather in September and soft consumer demand' as reasons for the poor start in the first 11 weeks of the second half, but added that there had been 'some signs of improvement' in the past two weeks.

Alexon has a total of 1,595 shops and concessions.