Rent-to-own electricals and furniture retailer BrightHouse has revealed a strong Christmas but cautioned that current trading has been tougher. Like-for-likes increased 9.8% in the 13 weeks to December 31, 2010.

Sales were up 13.7% to £57.4m on the back of a “surge” in demand for games consoles, mobile phones, laptops and flat-screen TVs.

BrightHouse chief executive Leo McKee said January has been “slow”. He said: “We expect robust trading throughout 2011 but it won’t be easy. Only a fool would say it’s not going to be difficult.”

McKee said BrightHouse benefited from its “high commitment to customer service” and its motivated staff. He maintained that the snow last month was “not a significant inhibitor of sales” and “customers were still able to get to their local stores”.

The retailer is on track to open 30 stores in the current financial year, taking its total to 228, and McKee expects to open “not less than 30” the following year.

McKee said that BrightHouse is a “growing business with lots of new customers to go for”.

Shoppers are attracted to BrightHouse as they seek value in the downturn but are less likely to trade up to more expensive items at present, he observed.