The Wolverhampton department store company James Beattie has started to check the sharp decline in its sales at the start of its new 2005/06 year, when it suffered a shortfall of 2.3 per cent in February and March.
This has been reduced to a year-on-year drop of 0.5 per cent between April 1 and May 18, Chris Jones, Beattie's chairman, reported at his annual meeting yesterday.
The shares responded by going 3p higher to 1131/2p.
"I am delighted to report an upturn in fortunes," he told shareholders. "This is significantly better than the current general retail trend."
As a result, Beattie's cumulative sales for the financial year since the beginning of February have improved, with the setback at just 1.4 per cent.
"Geographical differences remain apparent with the West Midlands down by 1.8 per cent and outside the West Midlands, up by 1.3 per cent in the period April 1 to May 18," Mr Jones added.