Fashion group Jacques Vert Plc on Wednesday said it had endured a poor start to the current fiscal year with conditions in the classic ladieswear sector both "difficult and volatile".

The company said total sales in the first 18 weeks since the year-end were down 9.3 per cent on last year with same-store sales down almost six per cent.

But those figures are an improvement on the sales position it reported in July when overall sales were down 10.5 per cent and like for like sales were 7.9 per cent down on the previous year.

Sales of own autumn ranges had given the firm "modest encouragement" while the integration of the businesses of Jacques Vert and William Baird continues to "progress well".

"Although sales have remained below the board's expectations, the benefits of the acquisition seem likely to be at the higher end of forecasts, it said ahead of its AGM.

Chairman Derek Lovelock added: "Although life in the classic ladieswear market continues to be difficult it is pleasing to report that progress is being made in refocusing the Baird brands."