Sales from four of Premier Investment's mid-market apparel brands reversed in the first half, including a 5.8 per cent slump in Portmans' total sales for the half and a 4.1 per cent slide in Jacqui E's total sales over the same period.
Dotti's total sales fell by 0.4 per cent in the half while Jay Jays were 1.2 per cent weaker, however Just Jeans sales grew by 4.7 per cent to $114.3 million.
But it was Premier's stationery superstar Smiggle and Peter Alexander that powered its first-half performance and ensured its net profit inched 0.46 per cent higher to $71.9 million.
In stark comparison to some of its apparel brands, Smiggle's total sales are up more than 80 per cent over the past two years to $134.7 million in the half, with total sales up 26.4 per cent on the previous period and it reports strong, global like-for-like growth.
Smiggle's expansion into the UK is expected to drive sales of $200 million by 2019 and there will be 50 Smiggle stores in Hong Kong and Malaysia within five years.
Peter Alexander's sales jumped by almost 14 per cent to $99.4 million in the half and the maturing leisurewear label is planning to launch between three five and seven new stores a year between calendar 2017 and calendar 2019.
Chairman Solomon Lew, who is also Premier's biggest shareholder reassured investors in February that the group's apparel labels had not been hit by the weak trading conditions that triggered the collapse of a number of high profile brands, including Marcs and David Lawrence since December.
Premier announced its underlying earnings would come in at between $92 and $93 million and it announced today a 10.6 per cent increase in underlying earnings to $93 million.
First half like-for like sales were 2.1 per cent higher and Premier said its record first half sales and earnings before interest and tax were delivered despite " significant external headwinds," including unseasonably cold October weather conditions and the earthquake in New Zealand.
As a consequence of the unseasonable conditions, Australian like-for-like sales for Premier's apparel brands fell as low as negative 7.2 per cent for the month of October.
This supports analyst concerns over how Premier's stable of mid-market apparel brands are weathering the tough trading conditions in Australia and the theory that Smiggle and Peter Alexander are driving the business.
Premier said Portman's first half sales were hit by "one-off temporary store closures," including the relocation of Chadstone and earthquake in New Zealand.
The retailer revealed it had completely "renewed" the Portmans' leadership team, including the appointment of Linda Levy as the new group general manager.
Total first half sales hit a record $588.6 million up 7.1 per cent on the previous corresponding half and online sales grew by 48 per cent, which Premier said was well ahead of market growth.
Premier announced an interim, full-franked dividend of 26¢ per share, an increase of 13 per cent on the previous corresponding period.
More to come