BROWN & Jackson, the retailer which runs the Poundstretcher chain of discount stores, plans to create 1,500 jobs over the next four years.

The chain, which also runs the What Everyone Wants and Your More Store discount chains, said it aimed to open 100 stores a year until 2004.

The group currently operates 604 stores, 84 of which were opened in the year to July.

B&J chief executive Johan Visser said the group eventually hoped to reach a target of 1,700 stores, although he set no timeframe for this goal. The stores announcement came as the company unveiled full-year results showing an £8m jump in profits before tax to £31.7m from £23.8m last year.

Group like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of new store openings, were up 0.2 per cent during the year.

Trading conditions had been tough during the summer, said Mr Visser, as other retailers made deep price cuts and the poor weather kept shoppers away.

But he was confident takings would pick up later in the year.

"In the autumn you are less dependent on the weather," he said.

In April B&J pulled out of talks with Storehouse about the possibility of buying its Bhs chain after the chain was sold to retail entrepreneur Philip Green for £200m.

As part of this approach B&J incurred a one-off cost during the year of £1.1m from buying a 2.9 per cent stake in Storehouse. But the group did buy North Shoe, the North of England and Scotland-based retailer which trades under the name The Famous Brunswick Warehouse, for £22.3m.

Mr Visser said while B&J would make acquisitions it thought appropriate it was not actively hunting other companies. "If something comes along and it is of good value to shareholders, we will consider it," he said.

Group pre-tax profit for the year after taking into account one-off costs was £31.7m, against £23.8m previously. Turnover was £388m, from £339m