Pre-tax profits at the UK business of Irish-owned retail giant Dunnes Stores last year more than halved to £12.3m (€15.4m), new figures show.
According to returns just lodged by Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd to the Companies House in the UK, they show that revenues at the group declined by 6.5pc from £177.8m to £166.3m in the year to the end of January 28, 2012.
The figures show that pre-tax profits dropped by 53pc from £26.2m to £12.3m.
The main factors behind the sharp drop in pre-tax profits were overhead expenses increasing from £43.4m to £47.3m and interest receivable dropping from £5.1m to £357,000.
The figures show that the group's gross margin dropped marginally last year.
Dunnes Stores operates 23 stores in Northern Ireland; six outlets in England and five retail units in Scotland.
Across the entire network, the group operates 155 stores -- including 116 in the Republic -- employing 16,000 people.
The accounts for the Newry-registered firm also confirm that it paid dividends of £4.14m last year to its Dublin-based parent, Dunnes Stores (Henry Street).
This followed a dividend payout of £9.2m the previous year.
The directors of Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd are listed as Francis Dunne and Margaret Heffernan.
The accounts offer the only insight into the finances of the family-owned business as Dunnes Stores has unlimited status in Ireland and is not required to file annual accounts.
The numbers employed by the Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd last year dropped by 343, or 14pc, from 2,342 to 1,999.
The figures show that staff costs last year declined marginally from £20.83m to £20m.
Accumulated profits at the Northern Ireland-based group last year stood at £297.7m.
The accounts show that the firm's cost of sales last year reduced from £113.8m to £107.5m.
The profit figure last year takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of £4.9m.
The firm's net assets last year stood at £297.7m. The group's cash last year increased from £35.5m to £42m.
In the Republic, Dunnes Stores remains the second-biggest player in the Irish grocery sector behind Tesco.
According to the latest data from from Kantar Worldpanel, Dunnes Stores' market share slipped during the year, declining from 23.3pc to 21.6pc at the end of September.