Swiss fashion chain Charles Voegele Holding on Tuesday reported a 5.6 per cent year-on-year slide in first-half net sales to 751 million Swiss francs ($520. amid a general slowdown in consumer spending.

The company, which operates retail outlets in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, said that adjusted for store space and currency fluctuations, net sales were down 7.4 per cent from 2001.

It added improved margins helped its gross profit climb to 412 million francs from 407 million francs and better inventory control helped boost gross margin to 54.8 per cent from 51.2 per cent in the year-ago period.