Women’s wear retailer Alexon said good progress was being made with its turnaround strategy after first-half profit edged up, despite a decline in sales.

Like-for-like sales fell 5.5%, but the group said trading since the half-year had been “encouraging”, with a like-for-like sales boost of 3.1% in the first seven weeks of the second half. Alexon said its autumn/winter ranges had been well received and were selling strongly, fuelling margin improvement.

“We are pleased to have returned to operating profit in the first half of the year, despite trading being impacted by a challenging market and restricted stock levels,” said Jane McNally, chief executive.