Multichannel retailer Flying Brands has reported improved trading in its interim results as it reaps the benefits from its cost efficiency programme.

For the 26 weeks ending July 3, Flying Brands reported group profit before interest, tax and impairment increased to £2.86m from £0.30m the same period the year before. Pre-tax profit from ongoing business increased to £1.90m, from £1.07m.

Sales from ongoing business were flat on a like-for-like basis, with Gardening Direct showing an 8 per cent like-for-like increase in sales in the key spring season.

Sales at Flying Flowers were down 7 per cent but cost control reduced the loss before interest and tax to £0.25m, from £0.51m.

Profit before interest and tax in its Entertainment Division was flat at £0.17m.

The group also reduced its net debt from £4.1m in June 2008 to £2.1m.

Chief executive Stephen Cook said: “These results reflect an improved trading performance and the first benefits from the cost reduction and efficiency programmes that we have implemented. We are particularly pleased with the performance of our Garden division, where we grew active customers, sales and profits.

“The second half performance is dependent on a small number of key campaigns the results of which have become more difficult to predict in recent years. However, we remain confident that the first half improvement can be continued in the second half of the year.”

The group also promoted Anthony Gee to group finance director, replacing Graham Norton who has resigned.