Online retailer The Hut has moved into the black at pre-tax level after making operational improvements and shifting out of low margin categories.

The Hut reported pre-tax profits of £300,00 for the year to end-December 2012 versus a £12.7m loss the previous year.

Enhancements such as a new data warehouse that boosted customer insight, an exit from white label operations and and a simplified check-out all helped performance last year.

The Hut, which runs etail sites such as and and is thought to be preparing for an eventual IPO, is also targeting further international expansion.

Sales climbed 30.4% to £145.3m, helped by a 35% rise in sales of proprietary group brands. About 36% of sales were made internationally. The retailer reported that sales growth has accelerated since the year-end and margins continue to improve.

EBITDA rose 130% to £10.1m.

The Hut chief executive Matthew Moulding said: “The growth in both our own branded products, as well as our rapid expansion overseas, is presenting the group with some significant opportunities in our principal operating categories of lifestyle and health and beauty.

“Our substantial and recurring investment in the proprietary operating platform is fundamental to increasing operating leverage which the group is realising as we build scale. The platform has been a key factor in delivering trading growth in 2012 which continues in 2013.”

Angus Monro has stepped down as chairman of The Hut and been replaced by Richard Pennycook.

Pennycook said: “The group’s model is showing itself to be both scalable and disruptive, with international markets a particular opportunity.”