RETAILER The White Company has hailed another record year after ringing up a 51 per cent surge in earnings.

The latest accounts for the chain, which has 55 stores across the UK, show operating profits surged to £17.3 million in the year to the end of March.

It notched up another year of double-digit sales growth at 12.6 per cent to £184.3m.

This marked a slight slowdown on the 14 per cent surge seen the previous year, but chief executive Will Kernan said it was achieved against a "very strong" year to March 2015 and "difficult" trading conditions on the high street.

The group opened stores in Meadowhall and Birmingham over the year, with further outlets since then in London's Marylebone, Leeds, Liverpool, Bicester and Chelmsford.

He added: "This year we continue to invest in enhancing our customers' experience through world-class new stores across the UK."

The White Company saw its fragrance ranges sell particularly strongly, with a 29 per cent surge in sales, while it posted growth of 26 per cent across home and dining and 16 per cent for daywear.

It added that the US direct business, which sells over the internet, saw "significant growth" in its second full year since launch.

The White Company was founded more than 21 years ago by former beauty journalist Chrissie Rucker after she struggled to find well-designed, quality white bed linen.

She started the firm as a 12-page mail order brochure selling a range of linen essentials such as duvet covers, pillows and fitted sheets.

It has since expanded to offer a full range of lifestyle products, from home accessories to clothing and childrenswear.

Ms Rucker is married to Nick Wheeler, who founded upmarket shirt-maker Charles Tyrwhitt.