UPDATE 1-UK's Dunelm Group resumes dividend, posts higher first-half profit

(Adds details on sales, outlook)

Feb 10 (Reuters) - British homeware retailer Dunelm Group reinstated its interim dividend and reported a higher first-half profit on Wednesday, as online demand surged, and more people stuck at home shopped for its products to refurbish their living spaces.

However, the company, which currently has just one store open to customers under Britain’s latest lockdown, said it has been covering about 70% of its last year’s sales so far in the quarter leading to a modest weekly loss.

Dunelm, which sells furnishings ranging from cushions and bedding to kitchen equipment, reiterated it was unable to provide a meaningful outlook for the full year and said it does not have clarity on when its stores will reopen.

“The early weeks of the (first) half benefited from pent-up demand following the first lockdown and the delayed timing of our summer sale; the latter part of the half was impacted by further store closures across the estate,” the company said.

The company’s pre-tax profit rose 34.4% to 112.4 million pounds ($155.26 million) for the 26 weeks ended Dec. 26, compared with the 112 million pounds Dunelm had forecast last month.

It will also pay an interim dividend of 12 pence per share and said the final dividend will be decided in due course.

Dunelm, founded in 1979 as a market stall business, said its online sales rose 111% and now accounted for 35% of its total sales. ($1 = 0.7240 pounds) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Uttaresh.V)