sterling-tillicoultrySales jumped sharply for Sterling Furniture as the stores group expanded into new product segments and pitched itself as a complete home furnishings solution for shoppers.

Year to end February revenue jumped 9.1 per cent, or £3.7m, to £44.9m for the Clackmannanshire headquartered independent, which trades stores across Scotland which — besides Sterling — trade under various fascia including Thomsons, Buick and Anderson & England.

Sterling said it had continued with its strategy of providing “Everything to furnish and finish your home” during the year, opening new departments including flooring, homewares and offering interior design services.

It said that “rather than simply supplying a piece of furniture,” the group wanted to “help coordinate a room providing both the inspiration and the ancillary products and services to support the main furniture.”

Gross margin declined 80 basis points to 46.3 per cent — the result Sterling said of changes in the sales mix — while pre-tax profits declined 27 per cent to £808k, which it described as a good result given its investment in new business departments and staffing costs which hadn’t yet had the chance to make a full year contribution to sales and earnings.

Average staff numbers climbed by 52 year-on-year to reach 523 at the balance sheet date.

Privately owned Sterling generated a net £3.2m cash from operations (2013: £3.1m) and £617k overall after tax, debt repayment and capital expenditure, with the latter rising to £1.4m in 2013–14 (12–13: £301k).

The group cut year end net debt to £4.8m (2013: £6.2m) while its balance sheet value rose to £18.1m (2013: £17.6m) at the 28th February dateline.

Customer deposits held at the year-end totalled £2.9m, up from £2.3m the prior year.

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