Sales cheer for Dragons' Den star

Stationery chain Ryman became the latest retailer to toast a robust Christmas trading performance as it announced like-for-like sales up 1.7% over the festive period.

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Ryman delivers sales hike for Dragons' Dan entrepreneur Theo Paphitis.

The 237-store group is owned by Dragons' Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, who also hailed improved revenues for his Robert Dyas general store business and the Boux Avenue lingerie brand.

Robert Dyas, which has 96 outlets, grew sales by 5.2% over the period from November 1 to December 24.

Boux Avenue - launched by Mr Paphitis in April 2011 and has 21 UK stores and four overseas - increased revenues by 20.2%.

The group said customers responded well to the product offers from all three brands, avoiding the need for discounting and resulting in improved profit margins.

Mr Paphitis said: "Growth was delivered in all three businesses both online and in store.

"This shows that despite the challenges faced by many high streets across the UK, customers continue to respond to the right product, service experience and a convenience offering, where relevant."

Annual figures for the year ended in March 2013 were also disclosed, showing Ryman's earnings held largely flat at £7.1 million against £7 million a year earlier after increasing like-for-like sales by 0.9%.

Robert Dyas - bought by Mr Paphitis in July 2012 - saw like-for-like sales rise 11.2%, with operating profits leaping to £4.9 million from £1.1 million.

Boux Avenue posted a 60% hike in like-for-like sales, with annual turnover of £18.2 million and an operating loss of £7.1 million in line with expectations for the fledgling business.

The group has recently signed a franchise agreement for the brand to open 29 stores across the Middle East in the next five years while there are also plans to open another 31 sites in two additional markets.