Clothing and accessories retailer Monsoon has reported a 32 per cent hike in first-half profits, with strong sales over the autumn and winter trading period.

The company beat analysts' expectations with a pre-tax profit rising to £27.8 million for the six months ended 27 November compared to £21m in the year-before period.

Total sales increased 29 per cent to £169m, while same-store sales grew 10 per cent.

First-half same-store sales throughout the UK, where the company opened 23 new stores, increased 12 per cent.

Same-store retail sales within Monsoon's international division increased 3 per cent, but decreased 1 per cent taking currency conversion into account.

Total international turnover, which mainly consists of franchises' sales, grew 28 per cent to £12.9m.

The group's earnings per share increased to 10.51p, from 8.23p in 2003.

Monsoon also opened 39 new stores outside of the UK within the first half of the year.