Value retailer Instore has narrowed its pre-tax losses in its first half as it reveals it is to delist from the stock exchange.

The retailer’s pre-tax losses narrowed from £7m to £3.7m in the 26 weeks to August 29, with total sales increasing 2.9% to £139.8m.

Like-for like sales rose 1.3%, “reflecting the favourable weather during the first quarter and strong performances from textiles and FMCG”.

Trade has slipped back in the second half, with like-for-likes decreasing 8.3% in the seven weeks to October 17, while total sales fell 7.7%.

Instore’s chief executive Aziz Tayub said: “The board have concluded that the benefits which the company and  its shareholders are able  to derive  from the  listing are  considerably outweighed by the costs incurred by the Company as a direct result of the listing.  Accordingly, the Board has come to the conclusion  that it is  no longer  in  shareholders’ best  interests to  maintain  its listing.”

He added: “Whilst the reported loss before taxation represents a significant improvement it would be wrong to characterise this as evidence of a turnaround in the Company’s fortunes. However, it does demonstrate some degree of stabilisation and that the correct actions are being taken.”

Tayub cautioned that the discount sector is becoming “ever more competitive in the current economic downturn. As a result the present trading environment remains extremely difficult with ever increasing pressure on margins.”

Instore has converted 58 stores to the ‘Poundstretcher’ brand at “minimal expense”.

During the 26-week period Instore opened five new stores, including two former Woolworths sites, and closed four, giving a total of 329 stores at the half year.

It said its owner Crown Crest Group has provided a loan of £5m as a  guarantee to  support its banking  facilities and trade credit  facilities.