Childrenswear retailer Pumpkin Patch said the “lacklustre trading environment” will force its 2011 half-year net profit down to be between $7.5 and $8.5 million.

Chief executive Maurice Prendergast said there was a slow start to the delivery of summer inventory, which “severely impacted” the six weeks of the season, and cooler weather in Australia and snowstorms in the United Kingdom also impacted trading in the period.

"It was always going to be extremely hard for us to repeat the very strong first-half performance we had in 2010 with the challenging conditions we have faced in all markets since then," he said.

“While many commentators are predicting improved retail conditions in 2011 we remain cautious especially in Australia where there are risks around interest rate increases and the impact of the recent floods.”

Despite this rough patch, Prendergast said the company is optimistic about its longer-term strategies.

“Our store expansion programme in Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom and the trial of our new concept Charlie & Me remain on track,” he said.
The profit downgrade is a fall from $14.3 million for the first half the 2010 financial year.

Pumpkin Patch is forecasting full year earnings to be in the range of $16 to $18 million, down from $25.5 million last year.