Home shopping group Findel said group sales are ahead of the prior year by 1.1% in its interim management statement though with some pressure on margins which it said is offset by cost savings.

For the 17-week period from April 2 to August 3, Findel said it had made a “satisfactory start to the year”.

It said: “Although the external environment remains challenging and with the normal peak trading periods still to come, we remain focused on delivery of our three-year full potential plan.”

Within its home shopping business, it said Express Gifts “continued to see the benefit from its strategy to increase its value proposition”. It said this resulted in a strong sales performance, ahead of last year.

Kitbag experienced strong year-on-year sales growth, Findel said, although profitability is further depressed due to stock clearance.

Findel has strengthened its financial position with funding headroom at the end of July ahead of plan. It also said it is now seeing a gradual reintroduction of trade credit insurance from the major providers after cover was effectively withdrawn during 2009.

Findel said the group’s normal peak trading periods are still to come but the general economic environment continues to give a headwind. However, it said: “We continue to see the opportunity for significantly improved performance over the medium term, and are confident that we are taking the right steps to achieve that.”