City analysts and retail experts will see tomorrow if a bold new plan to turn gloomy high street trading round is working when the mighty Arcadia Group announces its preliminary results.

Arcadia, whose brands include Burton Menswear, Dorothy Perkins, Principles, Top Shop and Miss Selfridge, Evans, Hawkshead and Racing Green, announced its innovative `BrandMAX' programme back in April.

Profits for the year ended August 28 1999 were sharply down on the previous year and Arcadia reported a pre-tax loss of £8.6m for the first half of the financial year.

Immediately following Christmas 1998, Arcadia started to address the problem by announcing a three-pronged plan of attack - lowering prices, re-balancing the group towards womenswear, and BrandMAX.

The key points of the BrandMAX programme, revealed with the interim results earlier this year, included devoting 77 per cent more space to womenswear, closing Principles for Men, closing 400 shops, and cutting 3,500 jobs.

Trials carried out by the group showed that Burton Menswear would do better if it was re-positioned to trade alongside Dorothy Perkins because women purchase or have influence over 60 per cent of what men buy.

Opportunities were found for Burton Menswear to be sited alongside Dorothy Perkins and the same policy was suggested for Top Man and Top Shop.

In line with this, Arcadia announced that 21 Top Man sites would close. It also announced that Miss Selfridge, a strong brand but whose stores were too big, would see its average store size reduced by 20 per cent.

It also announced that Principles for Women was being removed from the mass market and 85 of its 135 stores were to close.

Arcadia said at the time that BrandMAX, which concentrates resources on the best performing brands to make their performance even stronger, would result in a significant restructuring of the group's retail presence in the UK and it was expected to return the group to profit.

Store watchers will have to wait until tomorrow to see if this is the case and whether the Arcadia group has the key to turning things round on the high street.

By Deborah Bowyer