Country Road said the retail outlook for the next six months remains “challenging” despite sales for the first half ending 31 December were 6.5 per cent up on the corresponding period of the prior year.

The company said Country Road expects a profit after tax growth of between 3 and 5 per cent on the prior year for the same period.

Director Ian Moir said in statement that Country Road’s expectations on sales remain conservative

“The challenging trading conditions were bought about by a significant drop in consumer spending through the half,” he said.

“These difficult conditions were anticipated and significant costs saving initiatives were implemented throughout the half to offset the impact of softer trading. These cost reductions, combined with stricter inventory management have resulted in modest levels of profit growth for the half.”

According to Moir, against the corresponding period last year, total retail sales, including new stores, were marginally up on prior year with comparable like for like sales down 9.6 per cent.

Also, total concession sales, inclusive of the new concession arrangements with Woolworths in South Africa, were up 25 per cent. Concession for like store sales in Australia were down 10.7 per cent.