McColl’s has posted a decline in profits at the interim mark despite an uplift in sales as boss Jonathan Miller says the group plans to “refocus on retail execution”.

The convenience store group, whose profits were hit by the collapse of Palmer & Harvey last year, recoded a 91% drop in pre-tax profit to £200,000 in the 26 weeks to May 26.

The retail group recorded a 19% fall in adjusted EBITDA to £13m, while total revenue inched up 0.1% to £611.1m, bolstered by a 1% rise in like-for-like sales.

McColl’s adjusted group margin during the period was 25.4%, compared with 26.1% the previous year.

The convenience chain reduced its net debt to £89.7m, compared with £112.6m in the previous year, which it attributed to “disciplined capital management and successful completion of sale and leaseback programme”.

The retailer continued to invest in its store estate with 17 convenience store refreshes completed and three new stores opened during the period. The retailer also divested 41 “underperforming” stores in a bid to “reshape and optimise” its store estate.

Chief executive Jonathan Miller said: “The key priorities that we outlined for this year were to stabilise the business and to refocus on retail execution following a challenging 2018. We have made good progress on both of these fronts while also maintaining strong capital discipline, reducing debt while sustaining appropriate levels of investment.

“I am encouraged by the performance we have delivered as we regain greater operational stability, but we still have more work to do in the second half of the year. The market remains highly competitive, with challenging trading conditions, given the unseasonable weather and uncertain economic climate.

“Despite this, we expect to be broadly in line with expectations for the full year and we are confident that our strategy, combined with the cash-generative and profitable nature of our business, will deliver sustainable returns for shareholders in the long term.”