Leading fashion chain Foschini on Thursday revealed a sharp rise in first half earnings from the year-ago period on the back of better margins and higher revenues.

The company said its earnings before exceptional items and their tax effects, rose 33.4 per cent year-on-year to 208.4 million rand ($29.8m) in the six months to the end of September.

On a per share basis, headline earnings rose 95.1 cents from 69.2 cents in the same period of 2002. It added retail sales climbed about 10 per cent from last year to two billion rand.

"The second half of the year is always heavily dependent on the level of Christmas trading, but we remain confident about this important trading period and expect strong growth in the group's earnings for the full year," Foschini said.