Sales at home shopping group M and M Direct jumped 15% in the six weeks to January 2, despite the loss of £2.5m of sales due to snow.

Chief executive Steve Robinson said the etailer was forced to halt guaranteed pre-Christmas deliveries on December 19, three days earlier than expected, which led to the £2.5m of lost sales. He said: “We had a good Christmas but the snow took the edge off what would have been an amazing Christmas.”

Robinson said M and M received a boost from the cold snap in early December as shoppers flocked to the web instead of braving the weather. But the severe snow in late December then took its toll. Catalogue distribution was also hit. Robinson said some catalogues due to be delivered before Christmas arrived only last week.

Top performers over the period included boots, trainers and underwear. The cold weather did bring some benefit - sales of hats and gloves were strong - and regional TV campaigns also bolstered sales.

Sales from M and M Direct’s online business accounted for almost 90% of sales, with mail order contributing the remainder.

The discount sportswear and fashion retailer is launching a premium delivery service in February, offering customers free guaranteed deliveries and returns over a year for a one-off annual fee of £14.99. Robinson said he would explore further innovations in delivery options, web content and ranges.

“The economy is not going to get any better this year,” he said. “To encourage shoppers to part with their money we need to be innovating and improving our offer.”

Retail Week Knowledge Bank director Robert Clark said M and M is one of the UK’s leading discount fashion and sports clothing retailers, with sales quadrupling since 2005. Clark added that its backer, TA Associates, will be seeking to realise its investment soon, with a float a possibility.

He said M and M was a “highly profitable operation, where costs would appear to be closely controlled and in line with a retail operation minus physical outlet costs, as well as exhibiting potential for on-going future development.”