ScS vowed to return some of the furlough money it has claimed from the Government as the sofa seller swung to a profit in a record first half of its financial year. The company said that a four-fifths boom in online sales had helped drive increased revenue, which hit £174 million in the six months to January 24.

Meanwhile the company swung from loss of around £600,000 before tax, to a £17.7 million profit, ScS said on Tuesday.The company said it intends to pay back the furlough money it had claimed during the six months before the end of the financial year. However this depends on stores being able to open in line with expectations, it added.

ScS Store
Chief executive David Knight will step down later this year (David Jones/PA)

It was given £1.3 million via the furlough scheme, which covered 80% of furloughed ScS staff’s salaries. The company topped up the additional 20% during the time staff were furloughed.

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“We are delighted to be reporting a strong result for the first half of the year, and continue to make progress on our strategic priorities,” said chief executive David Knight.

He said that uncertainties in consumer confidence and the economic environment make it difficult to give a clear outlook for the months ahead.

“However, we remain cautiously optimistic as recent government announcements have provided further clarity on the anticipated reopening of our stores.

“The business continues to adapt and respond to trading conditions, with increased focus on the development of our digital channels.”

It was these digital channels which stepped in during the six months. While like-for-like order intake was down more thaan 9% as stores closed, online sales soared by 81%, the company said.

Since the end of January things have been going even better online, with sales up nearly 158% across the first seven weeks of the second half.

Shops are set to open again on April 12 in England and Wales.

After more than three decades with the company, Mr Knight will hand over to new chief executive Steve Carson in July

“It was always my plan to leave the business when I felt it was on a firm financial foundation with strong succession plans in place,” he said.

“I have every confidence that the team we have built over recent years will continue to bring success to the business and have been inspired by the dedication of all our colleagues in such uncertain times.”