Department store Beales pre-tax profit surged 67% to £909,000 in the 26 weeks to May 1.

Revenue declined 1.8% to £26.2m in the “challenging environment”

The retailer said some of its buying and concessions strategies, especially on fashions, are “starting to deliver the expected results”, driven by new concessions including GIVe, Joules and Noa Noa.

However furniture sales declined, “reflecting the caution being exercised by consumers over large ticket purchases”.

Beales said the overall decline in revenue was “offset by a small improvement in achieved gross margin”.

Chairman Mike Killingley said: “The economic environment in the UK remains challenging for retailers. While we expect recovery from the recent recession to continue, we expect the pace of that recovery to be relatively subdued”.

Beales said it is on the hunt for more stores, following the acquisition earlier this month of Robbs of Hexham

It said: “We are seeking further opportunities to increase the number of stores in the Group. We have the infrastructure to manage a larger portfolio of stores, so that any such acquisitions should be profit enhancing.”

It added: “The restoration of full year profitability depends on increasing sales and improving margins. We are continuing to pursue an aggressive promotional strategy, to increase our buying-in margins and to focus on cost control, which we are confident will enable us to meet this objective.”

In the full year to October 31, pre-tax losses reduced by 35% to £990,000.