Fashion group Marchpole has reported a static yearly profit as it expands its business, rising above a challenging market environment.

Full-year pre-tax profit was GBP4.9m (US$8.92m) as turnover grew to GBP38.4m from GBP31.5m a year ago. Operating profit was GBP5.5m compared to GBP5.1m last year.

It has an order book of more than GBP40m for autumn/winter 2006 compared with GBP14.9m in 2005.

Executive deputy chairman Michael Morris said: "Marchpole has evolved from being a single-brand, single-country business to a diversified multi-brand international business with strong growth potential.

"We now operate through wholly owned subsidiaries in the major fashion centres of the world - the UK, mainland Europe in France and Italy, Asia and the US - for a wide range of internationally recognised fashion brands."

Morris said the company was in talks over an exclusive distribution deal for the JCC and Ungaro brands in nine Middle Eastern and Gulf states. It expects an agreement to be signed "imminently".

"The Company's profitability and our strong autumn/einter forward order book are a reflection of the investments which have been made in developing the Company's brands and we shall continue to pursue other earnings enhancing acquisitions and licensing opportunities," Morris added.