Leading budget apparel chain Matalan Plc on Wednesday reported an expected nine per cent year-on-year climb in first half pre-tax profit to £53.6 million and said current sales were strong.

The rapidly-expanding company, which targets out-of-town locations, said turnover in the six months to August 31 surged 28 per cent year-on-year to £492m as it benefited from new store openings.

It added same-store sales in the seven weeks to October 19 were up 8.9 per cent and its first half gross profit margin was in line with its expectations.

Chief executive Paul Mason, commented: "We are pleased with the second half so far, particularly in September, but there's still a lot to do."

Matalan announced earlier this year it will create more than 2,200 jobs through an ambitious expansion drive involving the opening of 20 new stores.