Recession-hit bargain-hunters boost M&Co sales

M&CO, the high street clothing retailer formerly known as Mackays, doubled pre-tax profits in the year to February, as shoppers turned to discount bargains amid the recession.

Profits rose to 10.4 million in the 12 months to 26 February, up from 5.2m the previous year - after dropping from more than 9m in 2008. Like-for-like sales grew by 8.3 per cent, while group turnover was up from 162.7m to 181.9m.

The Renfrewshire-based firm, owned by the publicity-shy McGeoch family and headed by chief executive Iain McGeoch, said profits were on track for continued growth in the current year.

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In a report issued alongside the accounts, due to be filed with Companies House in the coming weeks, M&Co said: "The increase in profit for the Mackays Stores Group was largely as a result of like-for-like sales gains of 8.3 per cent, particularly encouraging as for much of the year the economy was still in recession. Customers of M&Co clearly appreciated not only the quality of products but also the value for money on offer."

The company, which has 3,463 staff across the UK and 935 in Scotland, opened ten stores in the period, taking its total number of shops up to 289. It plans to open a further ten stores in the coming months.

It also decreased its net bank borrowings over the year by 17.6m and said trading in the current period had been strong.

The firm added: "Mackays Stores Group has made an encouraging start to the current trading year with sales and profits ahead of last year."

Mackays was formed as a pawnbroker in 1833. It changed its brand to M&Co in 2006.

The company tested the new branding three years earlier when it bought the Midlands-based Laroque chain and rebranded it to the new concept, which was more focused on women's fashion and homeware than its previous incarnation.

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