Matalan auction boosted by Xmas sales

FASHION and homewares retailer Matalan has boosted its £1.5bn auction by revealing further strong growth over the Christmas period.

The group revealed that like-for-like sales rose 13.7 per cent in the five weeks to 2 January.

The upbeat trading statement came despite tough comparatives with positive trading figures seen a year earlier.

Five private equity firms are believed to be circling for the business which was founded by John Hargreaves.

Hargreaves took Matalan private in an £827m deal backed by £410m of debt three years ago.

Chief executive Alistair McGeorge said: "The shopping experience for our customers continues to improve as we innovate and refresh across our stores."

The company relies on cut-price clothes and homewares to attract customers to its 205 stores.

Operating profits hit £102m in the year to 28 February – up from £89.4m a year earlier.

Sales were up by 9.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 2 January, with total sales ahead 10.4 per cent to £362m.

McGeorge said the company continued with its normal promotional stance and had not resorted to the deeper discounting tactics seen elsewhere.

Matalan’s end of season sale, which launched on Christmas Eve, also performed strongly and meant the company was left with less stock than previous year, he said.