UPDATE 1-Retailer Dunelm sees higher profit on not riding holiday discount bandwagon

(Adds profit figures, background)

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Homewares retailer Dunelm forecast a near 20% jump in earnings for the first half of its fiscal year, benefiting from its decision to stay away from discounting during the key holiday season that included Black Friday and Christmas.

Dunelm, which had warned on margins in October due to a weakness in sterling, has seen a steadying in its business as its new website seemed to appeal to shoppers who decided to stay in during the cold British winter.

“Our customers have responded well to the new website during Christmas and Winter Sale trading,” Dunelm said on Thursday.

Online sales soared 32.1% during the second quarter ended Dec. 28, which covered the busiest shopping season for retailers.

The London-listed company, which employs 9,500 people working out of over 170 stores, said total like-for-like sales climbed 5%.

Dunelm expects pretax profit for the first half to be 83 million pounds ($108.83 million), up from 70 million pounds in the comparable year-ago period.

The update soothed investor nerves as analysts had forecast weak holiday season sales for most British retailers, partly reflecting intense competition. ($1 = 0.7627 pounds) (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Rashmi Aich)