Despite the escalating economic down-turn and declining consumer demand, South African clothing manufacturer and retailer Rex Trueform Clothing Company put in a "positive" first half performance, helped by its Queenspark retail unit.

For the six months to 31 December 2008, group revenue rose by 15.8% to ZAR256.2m (US$25.0m) despite the more difficult trading environment. This compares with ZAR221.3m in the same period last year.

Operating profit increased by 11.7% to ZAR14.8m, from ZAR13.2m a year earlier, and earnings were up 12.6% to 66.2 cents per share from 58.8 cents per share last year.

Headline earnings rose 20.9% to 65.3 cents per share from 54.0 cents per share last time.                   

The opening of three new stores helped turnover at the Queenspark retail segment rise by 20.9%. Same store sales increased by 11.5%, and operating profit increased by 12.8% over last year.                  

Retail results offset a loss in the company's manufacturing division where lower volumes at its clothing factory in Atlantis led to a loss of ZAR766,000 for the six-month period.   

Rex Trueform warned that further reductions in manufacturing orders are expected, and that the downturn in consumer demand "presents a considerable challenge" to its second half performance.