Women’s fashion chain New Look on Thursday said it expects pre-tax profits to surge 38 per cent this year on the back of soaring sales.

The operator of nearly 500 stores said a strong first-half performance in the UK and its joint venture in France means group pre-tax profit for the six months ended September 28 will be at least £44 million.

New Look said total domestic sales during the 26-week period were up 12 per cent, with same-store sales up 8.7 per cent. Gross profit margin was up 2.2 percentage points thanks to fewer discounts.

Chief executive Stephen Sunnucks attributed the growth to the firm’s recent makeover which has seen it target bigger stores, increase its product range and refurbish smaller outlets to keep boosting sales.

"Our continued strong performance demonstrates that our strategy to improve our stores and product, to shorten our supply chain and to keep costs tight, is delivering superior growth," he said.

"While we remain vigilant about market conditions we are confident that we will continue to drive the business forward."

The company will report interim figures at the end of next month.