Clothing retailer Just Group is cautious about the prospects for pre-Christmas trading, despite "buoyant" consumer confidence, the company's managing director told its AGM.

Jason Murray reiterated the group's forecast that earnings per share would increase by at least 10% this year, but warned that the current business environment was being overshadowed by the imminent Federal elections, interest rate rises in Australia and New Zealand, and high petrol prices.

"While employment is still strong and consumer confidence has remained buoyant, we are cautious in our appraisal of the retail market for the rest of the year," he told shareholders.

"The Christmas quarter delivers almost two-thirds of our first-half profit, so it's difficult to offer a definitive opinion on how we will perform for the first half of 2007-08."

Just Group is currently in the middle of its biggest ever store opening and refurbishment programme, which will lift its roster of stores from 847 to 873 by the end of the year.

The company, whose retail chains include Just Jeans, Portmans, Jay Jays, Jacqui E, Peter Alexander and Dotti, recorded net profit of AUD63.9m (US$55.8m) in 2006-7, up 11.7%, with sales rising 9.2% to AUD762.4m.