COST-CUTTING at the UK arm of Dunnes Stores meant that profits jumped last year, despite falling sales.
Pre-tax profits at the British division of the Irish-owned retail giant soared by 29pc to £15.9m (€18.5m) in the year ending to February – even though sales fell by 5pc to £157m.
The newly filed accounts offer a rare 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 to the Companies Office.
The Newry-registered firm's revenues are generated by 34 stores operating in the UK and Northern Ireland – 23 in the North, six in England and five in Scotland.
Most of its increase in profit last year can be attributed to cost-cutting; the firm's cost of sales decreased by 9.5pc from £107.5m to £97.25m while operating expenses were slashed by about £2m to £45.6m. Staff costs of £18.89m were down by 6pc, or more than £1m.
The entire Dunnes Stores group employs about 15,000 people in Ireland and the UK.
Now the second largest player in the Irish grocery market, just behind Tesco, the firm operates 116 stores in the Republic.
Figures from Kantar Worldpanel show that it managed to grow its market share by one percentage point in the past three months, in the face of fierce competition from Lidl and Aldi, to 23pc of the market.