Upscale men's clothing producer Marchpole Holdings Plc on Wednesday revealed it swung to a first half profit as it was boosted by solid sales growth and added its current order book is well ahead of last year.

The London-based firm, which makes apparel for the YSL and Boateng labels, posted a pre-tax profit for the six months ended September 26 of £804,000 compared to a year-ago loss of £1 million.

Sales rose to £7.96m from £6m last year with the firm "confident the strength of this first half performance together with its current order books will result in a good performance for the year as a whole".

Chairman Chris Phillips added: "The YSL brand is performing well, benefiting from improvements in product range, sourcing, quality, distribution and customer service.

"The Boateng brand has been successfully launched during the course of this half year and, committed to brand development strategy, the company has invested over £400,000 to date.

"This strong profile has also been reflected in the second season with the Spring Summer 2004 forward order book increasing by over 50 per cent."

He concluded: "Overhead efficiencies continue with good control over distribution and administration costs, with the overhead as a percentage of turnover improving from 49 per cent to 31 per cent.

Having firmly established stability and control of the key elements of the business, the executive management continue to drive the strategy of growing existing brands such as YSL as well as investing in and developing new brands such as Boateng.