UK based retail firm, Actif Group Plc, today reported a year on year increase in turnover of 73 per cent.

In a statement, the company said its gross margin rose from 36.2 per cent to 41.2 per cent and revealed pre-tax losses of £1.98 million, which it attributed to lower than expected sales from the group's core ELLE brand and costs associated with the launch and closure of the Joe Boxer brand in the UK.

It added that disappointing spring/summer range sales also had a negative impact. David Brock, Actif chairman commented "The board has taken significant steps to improve our performance in the short and longer term. I am pleased to report a stabilisation of the trading performance in the second half and since the year-end sales have been in line with expectations.

"While it has been a difficult year for the group we believe that we are well placed to exploit the potential of the ELLE brand and restore profitability to our core business."

In the past year, Actif has opened two ELLE stores in the UK, and 14 department store concessions, and have completed a major cost reduction program. New chief executive Mark Evans was appointed in August 2001.