AVI expects its headline earnings a share for total operations for the six months to December to increase by between 8 percent and 11 percent, the food producer and fashion retailer said yesterday. The company, which owns brands such as I&J fish, fashion brand Kurt Geiger and Bakers biscuits, said earnings a share were likely to increase by between 19 percent and 21 percent for the same period. Earnings a share from continuing operations were estimated to rise by between 27 percent and 29 percent. The overall sales performance was sound in a tough environment with strong volume growth in biscuits and snacks, both in South Africa and regionally, the company said. AVI’s consolidated gross profit margin declined slightly due mainly to gross margin pressure in the footwear businesses. However, the consolidated operating profit margin benefited from the volume leverage in some categories. AVI said another factor affecting the results was the announcement that Indigo Brands had received a once-off pretax payment of R150 million from Coty following the revision of their commercial relationship. The shares closed 1.28 percent lower at R53.80 on the JSE yesterday.