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ahfStoreFrontFurniture chain AHF says its new and upgraded stores can help it build on improving 2014–15 sales and profits with another leap in performance this year.


The employee-owned retailer — which trades from 19 stores of which six are concessions in Beales and Westgate department stores — grew sales 4.6 per cent to £19.5m in the year to end March.


Gross margin declined 60 basis point to 50.4 per cent but underlying EBITDA increased 23.8 per cent to £432,424 thanks to its top line growth and lower costs, partly following the closure of its underperforming concession in Harrogate.


The company halved its statutory pre-tax loss to £63,134.


AHF says it upgraded legacy stores to its new format in the towns of Peterborough and Colchester, and opened a new store in Northampton in March 2015. It has since opened a further store with a West London unit at Hayes (see related).


The business generated a net £1.4m (2014: £1.6m) cash from operations while its store growth and upgrades meant net capital expenditure increased to £1.3m (2014: £121,167). Overall cash and equivalents climbed £55,820 to £1.8m while net funds at its 31st March balance sheet date totalled £397,226 (2014: £1m).


Its new Colchester store opened late in the year and didn’t contribute to delivered turnover, AHF said, while underlying orders per store were up 7 per cent on a like-for-like basis, a trend which has since continued. It added that with the opening of the new space, turnover is expected to increase significantly in 2015–16.


Related: Furniture retailer AHF opens West London store