The discount end of the clothing market was holding up well despite a growing reluctance of shoppers to splash out on fashion, according to retail group Peacock.
The company, which operates the Peacocks, bonmarche and Fragrance Shop brands, and which is well represented in the West Midlands, said like-for-like sales rose by 3.6 per cent in the year to March 3.
It said the value sector had grown at a faster rate than the clothing market overall.
Trading conditions were currently particularly challenging and sales growth was "hard won", but the group said the gloom over consumer spending and the economic outlook in the UK could play into its hands.
Finance director Keith Bryant said: "When people tighten their purse strings they look increasingly for value offers.
Peacock is incredibly well set to take advantage of any downturn in the economy."
Unveiling its annual results, Peacock said pre-tax profits rose by 7.9 per cent to £35 million on the back of an
11.8 per cent rise in turnover to £548.2 million. It did not provide an update on trading since the start of April.
It also confirmed its expansion plans for the current year, with 30 more Peacocks stores, 20 bonmarche outlets and at least 30 new branches of The Fragrance Shop, including one at Merry Hill, in the current financial year. The moves, previously announced in November, should create around 800 jobs.
The group said its core Peacocks chain saw same-store sales growth of 9.3 per cent over the past year as moves to stock more fashionable products drew a positive response from shoppers.
At the same time, Cardiff-based Peacock pressed on with a store refit programme with 80 per cent of the 430-outlet chain trading with the new design by the end of March and the remaining branches due to be converted over the next 12 months.
But the performance of the Peacocks business was in contrast to its 350 bonmarche stores, which sells clothes for women aged 45 and above.