Carpetright estate to get major revamp

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Carpetright’s veteran boss Lord Harris has said the chain will revamp its entire estate over the next two years as part of his commitment to high street trading.

The chairman and chief executive said in an interview that like-for-like sales were “well up” in the 36 stores that have been refitted so far.

And despite rising vacancy rates, Lord Harris said he will open more shops in towns, although he rejected speculation that he aims to take the business private, having failed with a previous attempt in 2007.

Carpetright, which has 501 stores in the UK, has issued a string of profit warnings in recent months as it battles the volatile market conditions. In January, it said it expected dire trading conditions to continue as it cuts prices to lure cash-strapped shoppers.

Carpetright has been particularly hard hit due to the stagnant housing market and because carpets are a discretionary purchase.

However, it claims it is well-positioned for any recovery, with Lord Harris hopeful the drive to give shops a “completely different feel” will help trade. As well as new look interiors, there will be an updated logo and improved point-of-sale material.

The retail veteran, who has worked in the sector for 55 years, added: “I believe in the high street, but this is a retailing country and we’ve got to get more entrepreneurs on the high street.”

There has been market speculation that Lord Harris planned to take the business private.

But he said: “I said when it failed last time that I wouldn’t do it again. We have five or six big shareholders and I made a promise to them I wasn’t going to do it. I try not to break my promises.”

The company was founded with a single store in Canning Town, east London in 1998 and floated on the London Stock Exchange five years later. Lord Harris has a near-20 per cent stake in the business.