Topps finds it tough but sticks by growth plans

THE UK’s largest tile and wood flooring specialist retailer suffered further sales woe but stuck by its store expansion plans.

Topps Tiles, which has 319 stores, said like-for-like sales are expected to fall 4.8 per cent in the first three months of 2012, slightly worse than the 4.2 per cent reduction in the previous three months.

Chief executive Matthew Williams blamed the poor performance on the weak housing market and low levels of consumer confidence, which was hitting demand.

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But he said Topps continued to boost its market share to 26 per cent and he stood by plans to increase store numbers to 400.

The Leicester-based group, which also trades as Tile Clearing House, will open its 300th Topps store in High Wycombe tomorrow and said it will open six more sites than it closes over the next six months.

Total sales at Topps were expected to fall 2.5 per cent to £86.9m in the first half of its financial year.

Mr Williams said: “It’s difficult to get away from the fact that the housing market and consumer confidence are the two biggest drivers for our business and both remain at historically low levels.”

He said the recent warm weather had also had an impact on sales but these were likely to be postponed rather than cancelled.

He added: “We are doing well in a tough market.”

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