Carpetright’s trading momentum growing as profits are set to beat forecasts

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Floor coverings retailer Carpetright showed signs of progress yesterday after revealing it is on track for stronger than expected annual profits.

The Essex-based firm, which runs 459 UK stores, said strong trading momentum saw its like-for-like sales jump 10.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to April 18. The business now expects its profits for the year to May 2 to reach £13m, topping City forecasts of between £10m and £11m. Shares jumped 7 per cent.

The retailer, under chief executive Wilf Walsh, has focused on a more contemporary market, and has kept discount levels under tight review while also introducing interest free credit to the business on Boxing Day.

It has launched a trial of smaller high street stores, which will feature a sample only premium product, and has emphasised the importance of the internet for driving customers into its shops. Mr Walsh took the helm of the business last July from founder Lord Harris of Peckham. He was previously managing director of bookmaker Coral.

The retailer said same store sales at its rest of Europe business – Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium – lifted 2.4 per cent but when the impact of the strong pound was taken into account total sales at this unit fell 12.6 per cent.

A year ago the group slumped to a £7.2m bottom-line loss, dragged down by much weaker trading at its European operations. Mr Walsh said: “In the UK our continued focus on effective promotional activity and the introduction of an interest-free credit offer has supported solid like-for-like sales growth of 10.5 per cent.

“Sales in the rest of Europe have also continued to improve, building on the progress made in the third quarter.”

Brokers at Cantor Fitzgerald have raised their full-year pre-tax profit forecast this year from £10m to £13m, while for next year they have boosted annual pre-tax profit expectations to £19m from £16m.