Hallenstein Glasson said first-half earnings were about a quarter higher than last year and the clothing chain plans to put more emphasis on its digital store strategy.

The Auckland-based company's net profit was between $8.7 million and $9 million in the six months ended February 1, with sales up 7.9 per cent at $108.6 million. It plans to release its complete results on March 28.

Record Christmas sales and a strong January underpinned the chain's New Zealand performance, and while there were improvements in across the Tasman, "there is still some way to go in Australia before we can return to a level of profitability acceptable to the board."

The retailer is reviewing its store portfolio as shopping centre landlords continue to lift rents annually, and wants to grow its online presence.


"Strong progress has been made over the past six months in growing our sales on the internet," the company said. "We will continue to give strong focus to our digital stores which will clearly become an increasingly significant part of the business."

Like other retailers, Hallenstein has had to contend with tepid consumer demand as households focus on repaying debt. That's forced stores to discount prices in a bid to bring customers in.

The chain's Glasson sales rose 7 per cent in New Zealand and 13 per cent in Australia, while Hallenstein sales gained 5 per cent. Storm brand sales advanced 26 per cent, and were up 7 per cent on a same-store basis.

Hallenstein's gross margin on sales rose to 57.1 per cent from 56.6 per cent in the prior period.

The shares fell 0.3 per cent to $3.55 in trading yesterday, and are up 1.7 per cent this year.