- Interim pre-tax profits at luxury furnishing fabrics and wallpapers designer and distributor Colefax rose 63% to £2.98m.

Sales from continuing operations were up 16% at £35.68m and the first half dividend is increased to 1.85p per share - up from 1.55p last time.

The group - which trades under five brand names, serving different segments of the soft furnishings marketplace - said the improvement in first half profits was primarily due to sales growth in all its major markets, especially the UK, where trading had been particularly strong.

Chairman David Green said sales in the US had not increased as much as the group would have liked against weak prior year comparatives but it had benefitted from an improvement in the strength of the US dollar.

He added: "Current trading continues to show improvements over last year but to varying degrees in our different markets.

"We expect our decorating division to produce an outstanding performance this year and make a significant contribution to group profits but this must be seen as exceptional rather than the norm.

"Overall, I am confident of a successful outcome for the full year."

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