- Homewares retailer Dunelm said it expected to report higher first-half profit as rising online sales helped offset the impact of store closures amid the UK lockdown restrictions.

The company said it expected pre-tax profit for first half of fiscal 2021 to be approximately £112 million, up from £83.6 million last year, with sales up 23% to £585 million.

The guidance comes on the back of higher sales and margin in the second quarter.

For the 13-week period ended 26 December 2020, sales were up 11.8% to £360.4 million, with digital sales up 40%.

Gross margin in the quarter improved by 10 basis points, as lower discounts earlier in the quarter and sourcing gains were offset by lower seasonal sell through as a result of store closures later in the quarter, the company said.

Looking ahead to the second half of fiscal 2021, the company said the outlook was uncertain given that the 'majority of our stores are currently closed to customers and there is a lack of clarity on when the restrictions will be lifted.'

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