Value variety store group Poundland has reported a rise in first-half like-for-like sales.

Poundland, which is controlled by crisis-hit South African group Steinhoff, notched up a 2.4% increase in like-for-likes in the period to March 31.

Total sales fell 6%, but Poundland said the decline reflected the closure of 60 former 99p Stores branches.

Poundland did not disclose a profit figure, but EBITDA at parent Pepkor Europe advanced 28% to €128m.

In the second quarter Poundland’s performance was held back by the impact of snowy weather, as well as product supply issues after credit insurers took fright at the controversy engulfing Steinhoff. Most suppliers, however, continued to supply Poundland despite lack of insurance.

It is understood that the 871-store retailer is pleased with performance in the third quarter.

There are now 210 Pep&Co fashion shop-in-shops in Poundland stores. The number is expected to reach 280 by the end of this financial year, and the brand recorded like-for-like sales growth of 9.4% in the first half.

At Steinhoff’s UK household goods division – Bensons for Beds and the Harveys furniture chain – sales fell 6% to €339m and like-for-likes edged down 0.5%. The EBITDA loss rose from €2m to €19m.

Steinhoff said a “strong performance” at Bensons was offset by a poor performance from Harveys.

At group level Steinhoff reported EBITDA of €45m compared with €163m in the comparable period last year.

Chair Heather Sonn said: “It has been a challenging seven months for Steinhoff, its employees and stakeholders. The revelation of alleged accounting irregularities and the resignation of the former CEO has had a profound impact.”

She said, however, that measures being taken “will promote stability and preserve overall value and enable us to fully investigate all circumstances around the alleged accounting irregularities with a view to uncover the truth”.