Premier Investments has reported a profit before tax of $54.1 million and a net profit after tax of $38.5 million for the first half-year 2012 financial year, down 2.4 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

Premier Retail’s, more commonly known as Just Group, EBIT declined by 2.3 per cent to $51.3 million while revenue increased by 6 per cent, which was mainly driven by improved returns from the company’s investment in Breville Group.

The company noted its growth brands – Smiggle and Peter Alexander – achieved 18.1 per cent and 15.2 per cent sales growth respectively.  Dedicated buying, planning and retail teams were established for each brand, which are set to benefit Just Group for the remainder 2012 calendar.

Premier CEO Mark McInnes said the company has managed to maintain solid margins in spite of intense competition and weak consumer demand, with clean inventory.

“Our interim results demonstrate the positive impact the initiatives put in place after the strategic review on the group’s financial performance. It’s true the retailers in Australia are clearly facing a tough macro-environment – weak consumer spending, increased competition, and rising rental and labour costs. These challenges will only continue to test the structure of the retail industry in Australia,” he said.

Key focuses for the business over the coming half-year are investing in the growth of its online presence, strategically expanding into Asia and opening more Smiggle and Peter Alexander stores.

“In this context, developing clear proactive tactics to successfully address each of these specific challenges is critical. This has been – and will continue to be – the primary focus for Just’s newly invigorated and extended senior management team,” McInnes said.

“It is encouraging to see these initiatives reap some early success. More importantly, we are confident we will see ongoing positive uptick in the group’s performance as we further invest in the business and renew our focus on the business fundamentals.”

The company reaffirmed the bottom end of its full-year profit guidance to be $80 to $95 million for Just Group EBIT.