Fashion chain cutting a Dash as sales rise after autumn woes

THE owner of fashion brands including Ann Harvey, Dash and Kaliko yesterday reported a "marked improvement" in sales over recent weeks as it looks to bounce back from a difficult autumn for trading.

Alexon pinpointed a tough six weeks around the time of the government's spending review as like-for-like sales growth slowed to 0.4 per cent between 1 August and 23 November. The figure had been 3.1 per cent higher in mid-September.

The firm admitted it remained cautious about the trading outlook but said it was encouraged by trends over the last three weeks, when sales have shown a marked improvement.

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Alexon reported progress in plans to revive brands such as Kaliko, Alexon and Ann Harvey and said margins for the autumn and winter period increased by 2.8 percentage points due to greater control of promotional activity.

Like-for-like sales at Dash, which is a 100 per cent cotton brand, have under-performed amid some impact from increased cotton prices and Chinese labour costs. Dash margins have been flat during the second half of the year.

Alexon added that its Minuet brand also performed below expectations, although it pointed out that a stock mix problem which impacted sales had been addressed for the spring and summer season.

Each Alexon brand has been given a new store design and the Luton-based company said the roll-out of these across its estate had already begun. "Stores refitted to date have out-performed our expectations in both sales and margin," it added.

Alexon has 63 stand-alone stores and 1,092 concession outlets across Europe. It now operates websites for all six of its brands and has also opened a stock clearance page on auction website eBay.e shares closed down 1p or 7.7 per cent at 12p.