Sofa giant sitting on a healthy rise in sales

DFS Furniture reported back on a better-than-expected first quarter yesterday after the UK's biggest sofa retailer saw sales rise 4.2 per cent.

The group - sold by founder Lord Kirkham to private equity in April - notched up revenues of 149.6 million in the 13 weeks to October 30.

But it signalled the snow and ice had since hampered sales growth as it said trading held firm "up to the period of recent adverse weather conditions".

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DFS said the impact was limited, as December is traditionally a quieter month for the group, which sees its peak trading start on Boxing Day.

Other retailers have been hit hard by the freezing weather as shoppers have been snowed in during the critical run-up to Christmas. Ann Harvey and Dash womenswear group Alexon warned over profits earlier this week after sales plunged by 20 per cent in recent weeks due to the snow.

Many high street stores were hoping to claw back some of the lost trade yesterday as the snow and ice thawed.

DFS, which has 74 sofa stores and five dining furniture outlets, revealed that underlying earnings edged up to 15.2m in the first quarter from 15.1m a year earlier.

Ian Filby, DFS chief executive, said the performance marked "solid results in what has remained a challenging trading environment".

DFS is opening 20 stores over the next three years, the first in Dundee on Boxing Day.