BUDGET fashion and homewares chain Matalan shrugged off consumer concerns today as it posted a 30% leap in earnings and said growth plans remained on track.
The group pledged its commitment to an ambitious store opening programme, which could see another 100 out-of-town stores opened in coming years, and increased investment in its online offering.
Matalan posted underlying operating profits up 30% to £132.9 million in the year to February 27.
Like-for-like sales rose 6.7% - a slowdown on the previous year’s growth, but resilient compared with many high street rivals as hard-up consumers have turned to discount stores to save money.
It launched a store opening plan last year, opening three new stores in Scotland, Manchester and London to take its UK portfolio to 205.
The group, which also has three overseas franchise stores, is accelerating UK outlet expansion by between six and nine stores this year and up to 15 next year. It is also seeking to drive web sales.
Alistair McGeorge, chief executive of Matalan, said: "This has been an exciting year for us delivering very strong sales growth in what remains a challenging market."
He added: "We remain convinced of the continuing relevance of Matalan’s offer to UK consumers and have re-commenced our store opening programme and increased our investment in our online business to reach out to new customers."
The business, which employs around 15,000 staff, secured a £525 million funding package earlier this year from investors after abandoning attempts for a sale.
It is putting the proceeds of the deal into its growth strategy, while also financing an estimated £250 million payout to its founder John Hargreaves.