fairwayStAustellThe trading climate remained weak in 2014–15 according to regional chain Fairway Furniture, one of the strongest independents in southern England.

The Plymouth headquartered retailer — which also trades from Tavistock, Newton Abbot and St Austell  — saw sales dip 1.4 per cent to £7.9m in the year to end January.

Its comments regarding weak trading echoed previous years’ sentiment, though were more upbeat than three years ago, when it said the market was significantly depressed.

Profits in the latest year halved at the pre-tax line to £101k despite gross margin rising 50 basis points to 44.8 per cent, the result of a fall in cost of goods sold. Other overheads were up because of a higher head count, Fairway said.

Year-end cash and equivalents was down from £1.6m to £650k, though that was mainly down to the company buying and selling listed investments, with investments held as fixed assets increasing to £2.5m (2014: £1.4m) at the year-end dateline. The balance sheet value of the business rose to £9m (2014: £8.9m).