In what has been described as the most challenging retail climate in many years, RCG has lifted half year profits by 2.4 per cent from $3.93 million to $4.02 million.

At the same time the company responsible for stores including The Athlete’s Foot and Shoe Superstore reported EBITDA rose 5.8 per cent from $5.43 million to $5.75 million for the six months to 25 December 2011.

Looking more closely, The Athlete's Foot recorded total group sales of $86.6 million, a decrease of 2.3 per cent on the same period in the prior year. Like‐for‐like sales fell 4 per cent from $87.5 million to $84.0 million. Despite the slight reduction in group sales, through improved operating efficiencies TAF was able to maintain its profits at the same level as those of the prior year, reporting EBITDA of $5.4 million in both periods.

RCG chairman Ivan Hammerschlag said TAF results are good considering that ABS data shows that the retail footwear and accessory sub‐category was down 5.9 per cent for the six months to December 2011.

He also highlighted that TAF is making a substantial investment in the technology, infrastructure and personnel to build a best practice e‐commerce extension to the business.

“Delivering an integrated, multi‐channel, customer centric, offering is a key focus of the business. We are confident that multi‐channel retailing will become a significant part of the TAF business in the short term and are working hard to deliver the best possible solution,” Hammerschlag said.

Meanwhile, Shoe Superstore recorded total sales growth of 50.9 per cent from $2.44 million to $3.69 million for the half‐year. Like‐for‐like sales were down 3.5 per cent on the prior year. Online sales since the launch of the new site are up 148 per cent on the same period in the prior year.

“The online channel presents significant opportunity for Shoe Superstore. Ongoing investment in, and focus on, the online channel is expected to be a major focus and driver of growth over the coming months. Online sales currently account for more than 15 per cent of SSS’s turnover and we are confident that the additional investment will ensure the continued strong growth of this channel,” Hammerschlag said.