Fashion chain New Look yesterday said it was winning the battle for high street spending by capturing market share from rivals and growing same-store sales.
New Look said like-for-like sales rose 9.8 per cent in the year to March 26 and have remained in positive territory ever since.
Total sales grew by 16.9 per cent to £813.4 million as the group added 200,000 sq ft of trading space in the wake of its £700 million takeover by founder Tom Singh in April last year.
Profitability was also higher than a year ago due to a lower level of discounting and the weakness of the US dollar with earnings before interest and tax expected to total more than £120 million - up 40 per cent on the same stage of 2004.
The figures come at the start of a busy week for the retail sector and offer hope that the slowdown in consumer spending may not be as bad as many analysts fear.
New Look is the thirdlargest womenswear retailer in the UK behind Next and Marks & Spencer, which is preparing to unveil its annual results amid speculation that it has suffered double-digit percentage falls at its clothing division in the past few weeks.
M&S will not update the market on current trading today but is believed to have lost sales because of the weather, with a mini heatwave boosting figures for the same period of last year.
Retail expert Richard Ratner, of Seymour Pierce, said the sales performance by New Look showed that it was in the right area of the clothing market to counter the spending slowdown.
The average age of a shopper at New Look is 29 and people in this age bracket are continuing to follow fashion trends at a time when older consumers were putting off purchases, he said.