Sales figures were kept in positive territory by ScS Upholstery as the furniture firm, which has a number of outlets in the Midlands, said it remained on track for 84 outlets by the end of September.

Helped by an advertising campaign featuring exEastenders star Martin Kemp, ScS said its like-for-like order intake for the half-year to March 31 showed a three per cent increase without the impact of an earlier Easter last year.

The overall figure was up by one per cent, but had been helped by a 14 per cent jump in sales orders in the first seven weeks of the six month period.

Christian Koefoed-Nielsen of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers estimated like-for-like sales growth was likely to have been running 3.8 per cent lower since week seven.

However, he added: "We continue to believe that ScS will outperform its market and increase market share on the back of an aggressive store opening programme."

New stores in Wrexham, Bristol Cribbs Causeway, and Mansfield have opened recently, while the company's outlet in Nottingham moved to a better site.

A further store will open this week on Newcastle's Silverlink Retail Park and will bring its total of store openings in the financial year to 14.

ScS remains on track to have 84 stores trading by the end of the period in September.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said the company continued to impress with its performance.

He added: "ScS is making headway in what is a difficult household goods market, and in our view, remains the best of the quoted upholstered furniture stocks.