Value homewares group Dunelm’s new chief executive, Nick Wharton, who formally takes up the role today, is confident of continued growth despite tough trading conditions and highlighted multichannel opportunities.

Wharton, formerly Halfords’ finance director and who became chief executive designate of Dunelm in December, takes over as the retailer reported interim profit growth despite strong comparatives.

Dunlem posted a 5% increase in pre-tax profits to £48.5m in the half-year to January 1, when sales climbed 8.5% to £275.7m. Like-for-likes fell 1.2%, compared to a 15.4% advance in the comparable period last year.

The retailer opened seven new superstores over the six months and now has 100. However Wharton spotlighted multichannel operations as a big opportunity which will be driven “much harder” with an improved product range, enhanced experience and greater efficiency.

Wharton, who succeeds Will Adderley as chief executive, said: “We have a clear and proven strategy for growth through ongoing store portfolio development.

“The addition of a more ambitious multichannel dimension represents a further achievable and exciting opportunity to continue the success of recent years.”

Wharton was cautious about prospects because of fragile consumer confidence but maintained: “We are well positioned, thanks to our market leading propositions and financial strength, to trade successfully through this period while enhancing our strategic position.”

Wharton succeeded Will Adderley as chief executive. Adderley remains Dunelm’s deputy chairman.