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.