Outdoor store Mountain Warehouse has defied retail gloom with another year of sales and profit growth, as the business embarks on a major expansion plan.

Sales were up 13% in the 12 months to February 24, reaching £255 million, the company said. Like-for-like sales were up 5.3%.

It marks the 22nd year in a row of unbroken sales growth for the business, which was founded in 1997.

Pre-tax profits were up 14% to £23.7 million.

The company said it had opened 48 new stores in the period and has plans for 50 more in 2019, including in Scotland and reportedly Edinburgh, which will create an estimated total 550 jobs.

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Chief executive and founder Mark Neale said the brand had escaped the high street crisis due to its "relentless focus on value for money", as well as new products and picking the right locations for stores.

The level of mortgage lending in the UK rose last month in a sign that the passing of the original Brexit deadline in March has eased fears, according to the Bank of England.

Net mortgage borrowing in April was £4.3 billion with the number of mortgage approvals rising from 49,400 in March to 66,300 last month.

Over the previous six months, the average was £3.8 billion.

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There were also glimmers of improvements in consumer confidence, with the amount borrowed for goods and services rising to £0.9 billion in April, compared with £0.5 billion in March.

Car dealership group Lookers hailed "positive" trading in the three months to March, on the back of a buoyant used car market.

The retailer said it delivered strong momentum despite "continued political uncertainty", ahead of its annual general meeting.

Used car turnover jumped by 8% on the same period last year, while gross profit improved by 2%. Its new car business grew more modestly, up 3% year-on-year, while it also reported 11% year-on-year growth in its aftersales division.

Shares for the company were up 0.2% at 86p.