Homewares retailer Dunelm has revealed its like-for-likes dropped 5.6 per cent in the 26 weeks to December 27, 2008, and said it is in “very robust shape” to weather the downturn.

Total sales grew 2.3 per cent to£201.8 million in the period.

The retailer believes it has grown market share and will plough on with its store expansion programme, which includes opening 150 superstores in the “medium term”. It currently operates 79.

The retailer said it is confident of being able to make good progresswith the company's opening programme over the next 12 to 18 months.

It said operating costs remained tightly controlled in the period, and that gross margin over the 26 weeks is expected to have been approximately 100 basis points higher than last year.

The company had a positive net cash balance (after deducting borrowings) of£23.4 million.

Dunelm’s chief executive Will Adderley said: "The last few months have been a period of huge turbulence in many retail markets and homewares has been no exception. We have seen a number of competitors exit the market as a result. In this context I believe that Dunelm's performance has been very solid.

"We have not resorted to unplanned promotional activity as a tactic to buy sales and instead have continued to offer our customers everyday fair prices and 'Simply Value for Money'.

"We have therefore preserved our margins and we believe that this, together with our exceptionally strong balance sheet, puts us in very robust shape to ride out the storm and to profit from the opportunities which it will inevitably throw up."