T. J. Hughes plc, the UK-based quality discount department store operator, has announced that turnover for all stores increased 28.4 per cent to £69.4m (1999: £54.0m) and 'like-for-like' sales improved by 5.3 per cent for the half year ended July 26.

The news comes as the discount retailer announced it was to expand its chain of 30 discount department stores into Scotland next year, and expects to have a presence in 200 towns across the UK eventually.

"Our second half year got off to a good start with overall sales ahead by over 30 per cent and like-for-like sales up by 7.1 per cent. After the short-term effect of the petrol dispute, our sales are coming back strongly. We are confident of achieving a successful outcome for the year to end-January," said George Foster, chief executive.

Profits before tax increased to 42.1 per cent to £2.6m and earnings per share increased 41.3 per cent to 6.77p.

The retailer continues to expand, with new stores opened during the first half in Boscombe, Crawley, Weston-Super-Mare and Burnley. A further store was opened in Doncaster in September.

T J Hughes enters the peak trading season with 948,000 sq ft net selling space in 30 stores - 22 per cent higher than last year.