Discount retailers Matalan and Brown & Jackson both appear to have dodged the recent gloom in the retail sector.
Matalan reported firm sales growth yesterday whilst B&J issued an upbeat trading statement.
Clothing and homeware store Matalan, which has more than 150 UK outlets including one in Birmingham, showed recovery from its 2003 slump posting like-for-like sales growth of 4.6 per cent in the 26 weeks to February 28, against a drop of 6.2 per cent a year earlier.
The group stuck by market forecasts for the year to the end of February of £84 million and said it had been helped by tighter control of excess stock.
As a result of fewer "distress markdowns", the reduction in average selling prices was pegged at two per cent, compared with a drop of 6.7 per cent a year earlier.
The Skelmersdale launched its spring and summer ranges earlier than usual - a move that contributed 0.5 per cent to the like- for- like sales improvement.
Instore and Poundstretcher owner, Brown & Jackson, was also confident that it would meet its full-year market expectations.
House-broker Numis is forecasting a pre-tax profit of £7.6 million for the company, which will report full 2004 results on April 28. Evolution Securities made a slightly more cautious profit estimate of £7 million.
The group had issued a profit warning in January but believes the transition to a new distribution centre in Huddersfield by mid-March will improve prospects this year. Matalan's shares closed at 2331/2p up 21/4p.