RETAILER Truworths expects both basic earnings and headline earnings per share for the 53-week period to the end of July to be 14%-17% higher compared with the 52-week period to June 26 2011.

"The pro-forma performance for a comparable 52-week period is to be announced in conjunction with the group's results, which are expected to be published on or about August 15," the company said on Friday.

Truworths competes with Edgars, Foschini, Woolworths and Mr Price, but rivalry in South Africa's clothing space has intensified with the arrival of international players such as Zara and Cotton-On.

Truworths operates 552 stores, 21 of them in African countries outside South Africa.

In the current period, group retail sales increased 12,7% (10,4% for the comparable 52-week period) to R9,1bn, while product inflation averaged 8%.

Comparable store retail sales grew 8,4% (6,3% for the comparable period) and trading space increased 6,3%.

Clothing retailers have beat market expectations in the past year, improving performances and margins through supply-chain efficiency, but analysts believe the rate of growth is unlikely to continue as consumers come under pressure as a result of escalating utility costs and limited job creation in Africa's biggest economy.

This week, Statistics SA said retail sales - a gauge of consumer spending - declined 0,8% month on month in May, but increased 6,4% year on year, mainly due to base effects.

Truworths' gross trade receivables increased 14% to R3,8bn relative to the prior period-end.

Credit sales contributed 73% (prior period 71%) to retail sales, the group said.

mooradz@bdfm.co.za