UPDATE 1-Poundland's currency proves Christmas winner
* 5 weeks to Jan 1 sales up 24.9 pct
* Like-for-like sales up 5.9 pct
LONDON Jan 20 (Reuters) - Poundland, Europe's biggest single price value retailer, won a place in the Christmas winners' camp, with a strong rise in sales driven by robust demand for cards, wrapping paper, Toblerones and boxed Maltesers.
The 382-store group said on Friday sales at stores open over a year rose 5.9 percent in the five weeks to Jan. 1.
Total sales increased 24.9 percent, reflecting 50 new store openings in 2011.
That included 24.5 million Christmas cards, 10,000 miles of wrapping paper, 6,000 miles of foil, 1 million advent calendars, 4 million units of Toblerone and 3.1 million units of boxed Maltesers.
Warburg Pincus owned Poundland sells a range of 3,000 products, including 1,000 branded goods from firms such as Cadbury, Procter & Gamble, Colgate and Nestle -- all at a single price point of 1 pound ($1.55).
UK retailers generally struggled at Christmas as rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures forced shoppers to rein in spending on more discretionary items.
Although official data on Friday showed British retail sales rebounded in December this was attributed to price cutting to lure in pre-Christmas shoppers.
Poundland Chief Executive Jim McCarthy told Reuters last month he was not anticipating any improvement in Britain's consumer environment until 2014, though he expected his business to thrive whatever the macroeconomic headwinds.
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