Australian women's wear retailer Specialty Fashion Group Ltd has nearly doubled its first-half profit on strong sales across its brands, but warns of a tougher trading environment for the rest of this year.

The company said that despite posting a 90.3% hike in net profit for the six months to 31 December, to AUD26.63m (US$23.7m), the first eight weeks of the second half was hit by aggressive discounting throughout the sector.

Even so, it booked an 11.5% rise in revenues to AUD317.7m, along with an 8.9% rise in same-store sales.

The retailer, whose brands include Autograph, Crossroads, Katies and Millers, said early indications are that its new season product has been well-received by customers.

But chief executive Gary Perlstein said “indications to date are that there will be a tougher trading environment in 2010 than 2009.”