Booming demand for squishies, the latest must-have toy craze, helped boost sales at retailer The Works.
The chain, which specialises in discounted gifts, toys and stationery, said revenues across its stores and online business were ahead 15% in the six months to 28 October, while like-for-like sales were up 3.8%.

It saw particularly strong demand for squishies during the period, which also helped offset the decline in popularity of fidget-spinners – the previous year's craze.

The Works opened net 32 new stores in the first-half, taking the total number to 479. The retailer, which raised £65.2m when it debuted on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in the summer, is targeting 50 net new store openings this year.

Retailers have been feeling the bite this autumn, after a summer of spending prompted by the heatwave and football World Cup came to an end. There are also signs that shoppers, concerned about Brexit and the health of the economy, will hold back on spending during the crucial Christmas period.

However, chief executive Kevin Keaney said: “As we enter the busy Christmas period, we remain focused on delivering for our customers through our unique multi-channel offering, which continues to buck the trend in retail.”

WRKS shares, which floated at 160p in July, jumped to 180p and then lost more than a quarter of that, were up 8% to 140p on Thursday morning.