First-half profit at Charles Voegele dropped to 6.1 million Swiss francs from 17.3 million in the first half of last year the Swiss fashion retailer said yesterday.

Turnover fell more than 9 per cent to 636.3 million, while earnings before interest and tax were down to 21.0 million francs from 49.6 million in the same period last year.

However Voegele, which has almost 800 branches and some 8,000 staff in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, confirmed its 2004 targets for operating earnings of 100 million to 130 million francs for the full year.

"Sales may also continue to fall, though probably not as accentuated as in the first six months," said the company.

Voegele also said it planned to expand into new countries such as Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary by 2006.