Continuing to buck the poor trend in retail sales, Hechinger Co. boosted sales by 16 percent and scored a 37 percent gain in profits for the three months ended July 31.

The Washington home-improvement center chain earned $3 million (32 cents a share) for its second quarter, up from $2.2 million (24 cents) in the same period a year ago. First-half profits totaled $5 million (54 cents) compared with $4 million (43 cents) last year.

Sales for the quarter increased to $67.2 million from $57.7 million, and volume for the first six months of the year climbed to $121.9 million from $109.6 million.

With the opening of the newest Hechinger home center at the Dobbin Road Shopping Center in Columbia, Hechinger has 34 stores in operation. Another is scheduled to open Sept. 11 near Philadelphia, the third in that market.

Washington Gas Light Co. reported net income of $20.7 million and common stock earnings per share of $3.38 for the 12 months through July, up from $18.7 million ($3.51 a share) for the same period a year earlier. Earnings per share declined because the company sold a million shares of new stock.

The gas company's revenues for the period jumped to $665.9 million from $509.1 million. The company said higher rates, colder weather and new customers had helped boost sales and profits, but high interest rates had offset some of the gains.