John Hargreaves came up with the Matalan concept after visiting America in the 1970s and seeing out-of-town superstores selling discounted homewares and clothing. Today the company trades from more than 200 out-of-town locations. After eight years of being listed on the stock exchange, the Lancashire company was taken private in 2006 by Hargreaves in a deal that valued it at £817m. The retailer experienced a tough autumn as the warm weather forced discounting of slow-moving clothing lines. Even so, under chief executive Darren Blackhurst, sales were £1.1billion in the year to February.
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