Australian women's wear retailer Noni B has announced plans to launch an online store after the company reported a sharp drop in full-year net income.

The chain today (24 August) said profit fell 94% to AU$231,000 (US$242,148) for the year ended 30 June. Before taking into account the impairment of goodwill relating to its IPO offer in 2000, net profit fell 81.7% to $669,000.

Sales fell 0.1% for the year to $117.3m, with comparable store sales down 1%. Noni B said that average full-price margin was higher, but discounting resulted in a small decline in gross profit margin.

Stock-turn increased and inventory at the end of the financial year was 10% lower than a year earlier.

The company said that through "this very challenging retail environment" it has "continued to refine all parts of the business so we benefit fully from an improvement in consumer confidence, whenever that may come".

It said that over the past three years it has reviewed its business model in detail and have made changes where necessary, including management restructuring, improvement of supplier terms, expenses reduced and store staffing rosters have been adjusted so they are aligned more closely with demand.

Noni B plans to launch an online store in the next month, but said that it expects "most of our consumers will choose to visit our stores to receive the personal service and advice for which Noni B is well known.

The company also plans to expand in Victoria and Queensland, where it said it is currently "under-represented".

Shares in Noni B were down 10% at the Australian Stock Exchange's close today to $0.495 a share.