TJX Companies, the US parent company behind discount designer TK Maxx in the UK and Europe, has notched up record growth in its first quarter and revealed that profits at the European division have soared.

At TJX Europe, which includes TK Maxx and homewares retailer HomeSense, like-for-like sales in the first quarter to May 2 rose 6 per cent. Profits rose 42 per cent to US$15.5m. However, net sales were US$421m versus US$495m the year before.

TJX Companies reported total group sales for the first quarter increased 1 per cent to US$4.35bn. Comparable store sales grew 2 per cent on the previous year. Net income from continuing operations in the quarter was US09m.

TJX Companies president and chief executive Carol Meyrowitz said: “We are pleased with our first quarter results, which were the strongest in our history and achieved despite the economic downturn.

“Customer traffic increased significantly across virtually all of our divisions, as customers responded to our extreme values on ever-fresh assortments of great fashions and great brands.

“Our strategies of planning comparable store sales conservatively, running our business with lean inventories, and aggressively managing expenses drove strong bottom-line results.”

She added that the retailer remained cautious about the outlook but that it was “encouraged” by the performance of its newer concepts A.J Wright in the US, TK Maxx in Germany and HomeSense in the UK.

She said they “continue to outperform our expectations despite widespread consumer weakness, which speaks to the strength of our value proposition and gives us confidence in our long-term vision to grow TJX as a global, off-price value retailer”.