Value retailer Original Factory Shop revealed customer numbers were up 12 per cent in the 14 weeks to March 29 as it prepares for its “biggest year ever” for store openings.

The 105-store retailer’s like-for-like sales rose 12 per cent over the period, while total sales went up 29 per cent.

Original Factory Shop chief executive Angela Spindler said the retailer will open 30 stores this year, up on 18 in 2008.

It will open in two former Woolworths sites in Chepstow and Cardigan, west Wales, and plans to take up to 13 more Woolies stores this year. The retailer is also employing former Woolworths staff where possible.

Spindler, who joined the retailer in January from Debenhams, said basket spend is flat but customer numbers are up. The retailer also increased its marketing spend since February, upping the frequency of its leaflet drops.

She said: “We’re thriving. There are lots of opportunities out there, and we’re going full tilt to make sure we take advantage of them. It’s a pretty good time to be negotiating leases and customers are really bargain hunting and have an appetite for discounted brands.”

She added the retailer is getting “more than its fair share of Woolworths’ business”. Spindler said there was some overlap with ranges such as childrenswear, toys and confectionery.

Sales of womenswear are up on last year, and children’s lines are selling well, which is “partly down to the Woolies effect”, said Spindler.

She did not dismiss opening overseas but added that there were no plans at present. She also said there are no plans for a transactional website, but the retailer may consider home delivery in the future.