Value homewares group Dunelm is ploughing ahead with expansion plans after posting robust first-half trading figures.

Chief executive Will Adderley expects 2009/10 to be a “good year for store openings”. He said: “We are planning an additional seven stores next year, but I expect that number will get higher.”

Dunelm revealed profits before tax rose 0.2 per cent to£27.3m in the 26 weeks to December 27, 2008. Like-for-like sales declined 5.6 per cent, while total sales rose 2.3 per cent to£201.8m. Gross margin improved by 100 basis points.

Its performance lifted in the eight weeks to February 21, after a “very successful winter Sale”. Like-for-likes climbed 4.4 per cent and sales rose 8.9 per cent.

Adderley added: “We’ve taken market share and kept our nerve when there’s lots of distress going on around us. The business is in excellent shape to continue to outperform the competition.”

Singer Capital Markets analyst Matthew McEachran said: “These figures are slightly better than feared and trading subsequent to the period-end has been strong, particularly after taking into account the snow.”