LAWS International Holdings, which spun off its retailing arm in November, yesterday reported a modest 10.4 per cent profit increase to $148.7 million for the six months to September 30, compared with $134.3 million a year earlier. Turnover, however, fell 13.6 per cent to $1.39 billion from $1.62 billion as US consumers moved away from buying high-volume basic clothing styles to more fashionable merchandise. Earnings per share was 27.1 cents, compared with a previous 24.6 cents, while the interim dividend jumped 33 per cent to eight cents from six cents. Chairman Law Ting-pong said the company was able to improve profits because the new styles demanded higher sale prices and enjoyed better margins. Mr Law said the company recognised this trend late last year and expanded its product development department to capture market share. Its manufacturing operations were also helped by lower expenses. Last year, the company's interim profits more than tripled to $87.2 million, from $25.1 million. Turnover was up slightly to $1.62 billion from $1.6 billion. Mr Law said the company was encouraged by US consumer spending during the Thanksgiving period last month, adding that US retailers now expected a good Christmas. He said he remained cautiously optimistic about a recovery in the US economy. In October, Laws announced plans to spin off its retailing arm, Bossini International, by declaring a special dividend of one Bossini share for every two Laws shares held. Bossini's shares started trading at $1.74 but have not enjoyed a positive reaction from investors, who have recently driven the stock down to a low of $1.35. Yesterday, Bossini closed down three cents at $1.50. Analysts said the lack of enthusiasm about Bossini was due to concern that Laws had subsidised Bossini's marketing and paid for the compensation of its directors. Bossini, which opened its first store in China in October, saw profits and turnover grow due to improved store operations and higher efficiency. Laws' stock fell 10 cents yesterday to $2.90.