Clothing supplier William Baird Plc admitted on Tuesday that sales of its women's wear brands were lower-than-expected in July and August and said it had been forced to slash prices to clear stock.

The company said sales of its Windsmoor, Planet and Precis Petite brands were up two per cent in July on the year-ago period but plunged 14 per cent in August as it carried out "heavy promotional activity" which reduced margins.

As a result, its women's wear profit for the first seven months is £4 million below expectations and it does not expect to recoup that shortfall in the remainder of the year.
 
Baird said its active and casual wear division, made up of the Lowe Alpine and Melka Tenson brands, has performed in line with expectations in the first half but order books for the Autumn season are down 10 per cent on last year's level.

It added: "Notwithstanding this, the action taken to strengthen the individual product teams for each of the women's wear brands, implemented earlier in the year, is expected to show improving results in the women's wear division in the fourth quarter."