Value fashion and homewares group Matalan has hailed an “impressive” Christmas performance and expects continued growth.

The retailer, which is for sale with a £1.5bn price tag, reported a like-for-like sales leap of 13.7% in the five weeks to January 2. Over the 13 weeks to the same date comparable store sales rose 9.3% and total sales advanced 10.4% to reach £362m.

Matalan said it had improved gross margins and cut debt substantially. Footfall was up year on year, the conversion rate improved and terminal stock is expected is expected to be lower than in previous years.

Matalan chief executive Alistair McGeorge was pleased with performance in tough conditions. He said: “The shopping experience for our customers continues to improve as we innovate and refresh across our stores. Our ranges continue to strengthen. The three new stores that were opened in the second half are trading well and the online offering launched last year continues to grow strongly.”

He said that investment in the business will be accelerated to drive continued growth.