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Outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Kathmandu expects first-half profit to rise by at least 20 per cent following a successful Christmas trading period.

The dual-listed retail chain said it expects net profit of at least $12 million when it reports on March 20, with total sales rising to $204 million from $196.3 million in the prior corresponding period.

That’s despite overall same store sales declining by 0.8 per cent in the 25 weeks to January 21, dragged lower by a 6.4 per cent fall in New Zealand.

“Striking the right balance in the key Christmas trading period between generating sales growth and improving our gross margin has fuelled healthy earnings growth,” chief executive Xavier Simonet said in a statement.

“We have also continued to strengthen our balance sheet position during the first half.”

Shares in Kathmandu gained one cent to $2.22, which is 24 per cent higher than a year ago.