By Aimee Chanthadavong

Country Road has increased its half-year profit after tax by 4.4 per cent to $9.4 million against the corresponding period last year.

Total revenue grew by 7.7 per cent to $217.8 million as well as its sales, increasing by 6.4 per cent

Country Road director Ian Moir said in a statement the challenging trading conditions were brought about by a significant drop in consumer spending through the half.

“Despite the difficult trading conditions a continued focus on reducing costs and strict inventory management enabled the business to improve overall profitability for the first half,” he said.

Moir emphasised that the immediate economic outlook remained uncertain.

“The directors remain cautious about growth prospects in 2011 and will remain focussed on cost and inventory management,” he said.

According to the company, over $6.5 million was invested to open seven new stores in Australia, including three Country Road and four Trenery stores.

David Thomas, Country Road chief financial officer, told RetailBiz that there are plans to rollout five to six more stores in the next six months.

“We currently have 10 standalone Trenery stores. We’ve also integrated the Trenery brand into some Country Road stores. But we’ve also recently launched our first Country Road and Trenery store format in Claremont, with the two brands joined side by side,” he said.

“And this will probably be the format of a lot of our stores in the long term. We see it as a good opportunity for our customers as gives thema greater and wider variety between the two brands. It also rounds out our offer to a larger customer base.”

The company said an online store was launched for both brands in August.
“We’re very happy with the online store results thus far. We think it’s adding to the overall customer experience, especially for those who can’t shop in store so it’s opening a new channel for the way they shop and be able to experience the brand,” Thomas said.