River Island’s profits slipped during its last full year despite a slight rise in sales.

Operating profit slipped from £145.8m to £135.7m in the year to December 31, 2016. Sales rose 4% from £932.7m to £970.5m.

Chief executive Ben Lewis said: “Overall, I think the industry had a challenging year. The overall market was flat and [the] under-39 market was in decline so for our turnover to be where it was is pretty stable.”

Lewis added that River Island was focused on investing in the business, tripling the number of UK IT and digital roles.

“We want to position ourselves as a digital leader and maintain our prestige so we are building our team extensively,” he said. “We are doubling the size of our innovation hub in Shoreditch to attract the best talent in the area and accommodate them.”

He said that the family-owned business was also investing in store and category expansion and was hiring more buying, merchandising and design staff.

River Island has opened five stores in the last month, boosting its store portfolio of 250 stores.

Lewis added that he believed River Island was well placed to take advantage of opportunities, despite the tough market.

He said: “In terms of overall sentiment, it remains challenging but we are confident in our strategy. In fact, I see some of the changes in trends and technology as exciting opportunities to offer something different.”