Department store group Allders on Wednesday posted a 52 per cent plunge in first half pre-tax profits to £10.5 million but claimed the slide was due to actions taken to improve long-term profits.

The company said in a statement total sales rose 3.5 per cent to £308.5m, with like-for-like sales down 0.4 per cent. It added gross margins rose by 1.4 per cent to 37.8 per cent, which chief executive Harvey Lipsith said was proof the group's strategy is working.