Jacques Vert bucks gloomy fashion trend

WOMEN’S fashion retailer Jacques Vert has defied the gloom on the UK high street by yesterday reporting a lift in sales and profit.

The group, whose brands include Windsmoor and Planet, saw sales up 2.6 per cent to £118.4m, while pre-tax profit nudged up from £5.1m to £5.3m.

The retailer cut its outlets in the UK, Canada and Ireland from 960 to 874 during the year to 30 April.

Jacques Vert, which is AIM listed, said it had toughed out an “unpredictable economic climate” during which prices of raw materials, particularly cotton, had soared.

Chairman Steve Bodger said: “Our brands have performed well in what has been a difficult trading environment. “Operationally, we have taken significant steps forward and are well positioned for the future. Although we have made a good start to the new financial year we remain cautious for the year as a whole.”

The company, which specialises in special occasion and partywear, said the popularity of its winter and autumn collections had helped to buoy figures. Jacques Vert said it would be focusing on increasing its internet sales in the year ahead.

Despite the sales and profit lift the firm has seen its gross margin hit by the rising costs and need to discount products.

The cumulative effect of these factors has resulted in gross margin declining slightly to 62.8 per cent from 63.7 per cent.

“One of the features of the current retail market, which has become increasingly apparent as the year has progressed, is the level and frequency of markdown activity which has had a negative impact on gross margins,” added Bodger.