Matalan is planning to restart its store opening programme after the value chain bucked the retail gloom with a strong Christmas trading performance.
Its like-for-like sales rose 5.9% for the five weeks to January 4. Chief executive Alistair McGeorge said the business’s good performance was driving plans to open the chain’s first stores in several years. “We want to have three new stores this year, although we haven’t decided the locations. They will be the first openings in a while; we feel more confident about what we are doing now.”
Like-for-like sales were up 3.4% for the 13 weeks to January 3, with total sales up 4% to £327 million. Gross margin improved as the retailer held off discounting before Christmas, and market share increased across all categories.
Current net debt to EBITDA ratio is 1.5, compared with 3.6 at the time of the buyout of the business in December 2006.
The chain is also launching a womenswear label, Be Beau, in March, and is expanding its online product offer after setting up a transactional site at the end of last year.
However, McGeorge sounded a cautious note about this year’s trading environment. “Just because you are a value retailer doesn’t mean you are immune from a downturn,” he said.