Floor coverings firm Carpetright offered some comfort on recent trading yesterday after store refits and favourable weather helped to boost UK sales.
The group’s profits recently slumped to £4m from £62 million in 2008 but new chief executive Darren Shapland said he was encouraged by growth in UK like-for-like sales of 1.7 per cent for the 12 weeks to July 21. He credits the revival to a drive to sell more beds, the extension of laminate ranges to more stores and the impact of its refurbishment programme, which has now reached 63 of its 486 outlets in the UK.
Mr Shapland added: “We also recognise that this period does include some benefit from the unusually wet weather, which has produced consistently positive customer footfall to our stores.”
The UK improvement, which increases to 5.3 per cent when excluding business achieved through insurers and housebuilders, has been offset by a sharp drop in sales in the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland.
Carpetright blamed weakening consumer confidence for the 6.3 per cent drop in rest of Europe same-store sales in the period but said overall sales for the first quarter of its financial year were in line with expectations.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement the City’s consensus profits forecast was £9.2m, which Matthew McEachran of Singer Capital Markets expects will remain in place.
Mr Shapland has recently returned to the carpet firm as chief executive to work alongside Carpetright’s founder and veteran retailer Lord Harris of Peckham, who is still chairman. Total sales for the UK declined 2.1 per cent in the quarter, which followed a 28 reduction in standalone store numbers on a year earlier. But Carpetright has said it is committed to maintaining its store estate in order to act as a showroom for its internet business.