Belfast Telegraph

Profits at carpet retailer floored by downturn

By Graeme Evans

The trading woes of the country's largest floor-covering retailer have showed no signs of easing after it issued a fresh profits warning.

Carpetright, which has 501 stores in the UK, said sales remained volatile and sensitive to promotions, meaning profits for the year to April 28 were likely to come up short of even the most pessimistic of City forecasts.

Despite the difficult weather conditions of a year ago, Carpetright's like-for-like sales were down 0.5% in the 12 weeks to January 21, while margins continue to be impacted by the need for discounting.

In December, Carpetright slid to a bottom-line loss of £800,000 for the six months to October 29, compared to profits of £9.8m a year earlier.

The continued pressure on trading in the UK, where total sales were down 4.8% in the quarter, was partially offset by its businesses in the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland, with sales up 0.3% on a like-for-like basis.

Lord Harris, Carpetright's chairman and a veteran of the retail sector with more than 50 years' experience, remains encouraged by the relaunch of the company's bed offer and the performance of recently refurbished stores.

He added: "Looking forward, I see no respite from the challenging environment over the next 12 months but remain confident the group will emerge in a strong position to deliver future growth once consumer demand improves."