In the final month's trading, sales at C&A's four remaining British stores in Southampton, Bradford, Hounslow and Lewisham are substantially up on last year, based on specially purchased new stock.

A group of buyers, headed by former C&A UK head buyer John McCall, created an independent company in January called IMM Enterprises aimed at providing the remaining stores with new merchandise.

McCall said: "We've only been running for eight weeks and sales of new stock in the stores are up 13 per cent on last year. We've been out in the market doing the thing that retailers are meant to do - buying, putting a margin on and selling at a profit."

C&A pulled out of the UK in January and had intended to use the four stores to clear stock from the 96 that ceased trading. All of them will finally close between now and the end of May. IMM will continue to operate and is looking for new business.