Budget clothing retailer Matalan Plc on Tuesday reported a 23 per cent slide in first half profit from the year-ago period but said demand for its current fashions is strong. The operator of 160 stores said its pre-tax profit for the six months ended August 30 fell to £41.2 million from £53.6m in the same period of 2002 although turnover edged up 3.1 per cent year-on-year to £508m.