Current trading less robust
Matalan reached the£1 billion sales mark for the first time, during the 52 weeks to February 26. Profits for the year also grew, largely because of the£30 million sale of Lee Cooper.

Sales for the year reached£1.1 billion, up 12.3 per cent compared with the previous year. Like-for-like sales increased 4.5 per cent compared with a reduction of 6.5 per cent the year before. Gross margin rose to 41.6 per cent from 39.9 last year. Pre-tax profits, including an exceptional item relating to the write down of investment in Lee Cooper, was up 31 per cent to£83 million. Pre-tax profit was£56.2 million, down from£65.5 million.

Trading over the past two months has been difficult, with like-for-like sales down 8.8 per cent.

Over the year, the retailer strived to improve supply chain efficiencies, with the opening of a distribution centre at Corby and an improvement in mailer product availability by 20 per cent. The retailer also completed 30 store refurbishments, with another 90 to be carried out over the next three years.

Matalan chief executive John King (pictured) said: 'Over the past 12 months we have stabilised the business, grown profits and reduced debt. We have achieved this by delivering better value to our customers through lower prices, stronger promotions, improved quality and greater choice. In a tougher marketplace, our focus over the next 12 months is to manage greater efficiencies into the business, delivering improved margins and stronger cashflows.'