Higher margins together with controlled expenses have helped boost first half year profits for retail fashion group Noni B.

The company has announced an after tax profit of $2.4 million for the first half of 2012 financial year. This compares with $1.5 million for the same period last year and guidance of between $2.1 million and $2.4 million provided on 12 January 2012.

Revenue was also up to $64.1 million, compared with $62.9 million, with comparable store sales in line with the previous year.

Joint managing director David Kindl said margin improvements has been due to its focus on customer service combined and reducing the need to discount. 

‘To maintain our high level of customer service, we have increased communication with store staff and streamlined operations so executives are able to provide greater support to the sales team. We are also continuing to invest in training and have extended to assistant store managers the certificate course in retail studies undertaken by store managers last year,” he said.

According to the company, there’s an opportunity gap in the market as there’s a lack of personalised service by online retailers and staff reductions by bricks and mortar retailers giving Noni B an opportunity to build on offering personal service and advice on style, colour and fit.

As a result, Noni B has already taken some initiative to improve its service including offering its styling by appointment service and the ‘Your Voice’ section on the website, which enables direct communication between customers and the executive team.

At the same time, Noni B recognises the growth of its online business.

“Our online store, launched in September, is growing revenue steadily and we are pleased with its performance so far. We are also increasing engagement with customers on Noni B’s million-plus loyalty database through Facebook and regular email,” Kindl said.

In spite of this, it also aims to increase its store numbers, particularly in Victoria and Queensland.

‘We continue to fine-tune our store network, opening two stores in Victoria, where we have been under-represented, and closing three underperforming stores. A fourth store has been closed since the beginning of January, bringing the number of Noni B stores to 212. Where we renewed leases during the period, in most cases we succeeded in negotiating more favourable terms,” Kindl said.

Looking forward, Kindl expects results to improve in the second half earnings compared with the second half of 2011 financial year.