Figures in tough climate
Matalan revealed a modest rise in like-for-like sales this morning while maintaining that the business has been up against a tough trading environment.

The discount retailer, whose chairman John Hargreaves is considering taking it private, unveiled a 1.3 percent like-for-like sales rise over the eight weeks to August 26.

In clothing, like-for-like sales rose by 2.1 per cent because of 'improved ranges and better marketing.' The business increased total sales by 2.2 per cent over the same period.

Matalan chief executive John King said: 'I am encouraged that, given tough trading conditions, we continue to grow our core clothing business while maintaining our focus on driving improved cashflow and business efficiencies.'

Overall gross margins increased 0.2 per cent, with margins up 0.8 per cent in the year to date. The group said that as a result of aggressive clearance of stock - while the business continued with the repositioning of the homewares offer - gross margin had been diluted.

Matalan chairman John Hargreaves, who owns a 53 percent stake in the retailer, has made no secret of his desire to take company in to private hands. Under deadline terms from the Takeover Panel, Hargreaves has until October 11 to table an official offer for the company or walk away.