Patchy start for Sketchley

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Sketchley, the cleaning services and retail group, said its retail businesses, Sketchley and SupaSnaps, had "variable trading conditions" at the start of the first quarter of the year.

John Jackson, chief executive, told shareholders at yesterday's annual meeting that trading conditions were in line with those of most other retailers.

However, he added: "The recent hot weather has been more conducive to consumer spending and SupaSnaps, in particular, has seen better sales figures in the last few weeks."

Mr Jackson said the first phase of the group's retail strategy, formulated at the time of SupaSnaps' acquisition, was complete.

"The improvement in results has come from the closure of loss-making branches and the elimination of duplicated costs in Sketchley and SupaSnaps."

The group had embarked on the second, more aggressive phase of the retail strategy, aimed at laying the necessary foundations to generate growth from outlets. The textile services division had made an impressive start to the year, trading in excess of expectations.

The company's shares fell 1p to 117p.