Matalan shrugs off the retail gloom as sales rocket on new product lines

BUDGET fashion chain Matalan yesterday said it was defying the retail gloom as it reported a 8.2 per cent boost in like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 6 June.<br /><br />The group, which has 203 outlets across the UK, said it had seen a jump in footfall due to the introduction of new product lines and its value offering. Chief executive Alistair McGeorge said: &ldquo;Customers continue to respond well to our strategy of offering quality products at fantastic value.&rdquo;<br /><br />Low cost fashion and homewares retailers, like New Look and Dunelm respectively, have outperformed higher price rivals in the economic downturn.<br /><br />The budget firm said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation had increased by 6.3 per cent to &pound;145.1m for the year to the end of 28 February, on a two per cent rise in revenues to &pound;1.04bn.<br /><br />Matalan&rsquo;s robust trading resulted in the group paying down &pound;45m of debt, reducing net debt to &pound;247.4m for the year end. <br /><br />The group is set to roll out an accelerated expansion programme after concluding that there is &ldquo;significant scope&rdquo; for new stores in the UK. Matalan is set to open three new stores in the UK this year, continue its store refurbishment programme and expand its online offering.<br /><br />The group, which was taken private in 2006 by a company controlled by the family of founder John Hargreaves, described market conditions as challenging but added it had outperformed the wider market.