BrightHouse has curtailed its store opening plans as it ploughs money into transforming its IT infrastructure.

The rent-to-buy furniture and electricals retailer will open 20 stores in its present financial year, rather than the 30 or more it had originally planned.

Chief executive Leo McKee said the retailer was making a “major investment” in its IT systems, spending £10m on projects including upgrading its main point-of-sale system.

McKee said BrightHouse has almost doubled the size of its IT department in the past 12 months.

The Vision Capital-backed retailer appointed Simon Mouncer as head of business change and IT in December to drive business transformation.

However, McKee said he still sees a “hell of a lot to go for” in terms of shops, and said BrightHouse could have as many as 646 stores in the UK in future. It has 183 at present.

In the 12 months to March 31 EBITDA increased 21.5 per cent to £29.4m. Like-for-likes jumped 13.9 per cent while revenue climbed 16.9 per cent to £170.6m.

BrightHouse defied the recessionary gloom in the furniture sector, revealing a 30 per cent like-for-like hike in the category in the period as shoppers sought alternative ways to pay for goods and the retailer benefited from improved product quality.

BrightHouse pulled in 146,000 customers in the period – a 17 per cent increase on last year. Last week it welcomed its 150,000th customer through the doors.

McKee added: “These are excellent results when the economic environment is not the best. We understand customers’ needs. We focus on low income families, but this doesn’t mean they are irresponsible. Their most important financial responsibility is often their TV or sofa.”

He added: “We’re on track for delivering another positive year.”

BrightHouse, which charges its customers an APR of 29.9 per cent, has been accused of  cashing in on people’s financial struggles in the past. However, McKee said BrightHouse was a “responsible lender, serving families in some of the most socially deprived areas of Britain”.