Variety store group Instore has made a pre-tax loss of £2.3 million in the year to March 1, from a loss of £9.1 million the previous year.

Instore's turnover climbed 6 per cent for the period to£296.8 million, with gross margin up slightly at 1 per cent.

Instore chairman Christo Wiese said: “Although it is always disappointing to have to report a loss, the results represent a significant advance toward profitability and should also be viewed in the context of the continuing change and development within the business.”

At the end of last year, Instore, which operates Poundstretcher stores, acquired 33 Ponden Mill stores after it fell into administration in December.

Instore said that current trading was tough, with poorer weather than last year affecting sales of its gardening and spring ranges.