The British Heart Foundation's charity shops have reported a 9 per cent increase in sales and a 34 per cent increase in profits.
In the financial year ending March 2002, sales were up by £5 million to £45 million and net profit reached £8.3 million.
The charity now intends to press on with its diversification into specialist books and music shops, and furniture and electrical goods stores, which have so far proved highly successful.
Ken Blair, chief executive of British Heart Foundation shops division, said that after two or three difficult years, the charity shop market had recovered in the last financial year and that the foundation was leading the way.
"We're now the most profitable of all charity shops, with average profit per store of £374 a week,
Part of the reason for the profit increase was a recovery in the rag market, which is where charities sell donated goods unsuitable for UK retail and a strong demand for new stock particularly over the Christmas period.