Speciality Fashion Group chief executive Gary Perlstein has labelled the decision by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to announce the timing of this year's election eight months out as an "absolute disaster" for retail.
He said the early election call only added to the challenging trading environment that retailers such as Specialty Fashion Group, which owns a portfolio of fashion banners such as Millers, Katies and Crossroads, were already facing.
"Election periods always, always, affect us and the fact that it has been called so early is an absolute disaster, Mr Perlstein said.
"That's what people's attention will turn to and from a retail perspective it could have been the worse thing to happen."
Mr Perlstein made the comments as Specialty Fashion Group reported a net profit of $18 million for the six months to December, a 192 per cent increase from the previous corresponding period.
It declared an interim dividend of 2 cents per share, fully franked. Shares responded positively to the profit and the reinstated dividend, were up 7.5 cents to $1.025.
Mr Mr Perlstein said the improved result was built on widening margins and a 2 per cent lift in comparable store sales.
Margins should continue to increase this half, helping to deliver a better second half financial result, Mr Perlstein said.
"We have said we will see another 150 margin basis point [improvement] on top of last year's second half.
"That will come from the same strategies that improved the gross margin in the current results, from our design led strategy where we are no longer going overseas like to London and the US copying global players, then going via China an knocking it off, we have actually have invested in our own design capabilities so we have our own unique product.
"That gives us a point of difference in the marketplace."
For the first half operating cash flows were $14.3 million higher than the first half of prior year at $46.2 million, due to the improvement in profitability, and the efficient management of working capital.
Specialty Fashion Group ended the half year with a net cash position of $45.6 million, with these funds to be directed towards the company's ecommerce capabilities and online store which would be a key driver of sales.
"We have no debt, the company is in a very strong [cash position] to make the investments in the whole omni-channel experience, that's key to have the strength to make those investments."