Belfast Telegraph

Dunelm cautious over consumer outlook

The homewares group reported a 4.2% jump in like-for-like sales thanks to a 33% surge online in the first quarter to September 29.

Homewares chain Dunelm has warned over retail and consumer uncertainty despite hailing resilient first-quarter trading.

The group, which has 169 out-of-town superstores and three high street outlets, reported a 4.2% jump in like-for-like sales as an impressive online performance offset weaker shop trading.

Dunelm said like-for-like store sales rose 1.3% in the 13 weeks to September 29, boosted by tablet-based sales for home delivery.

With this stripped out, like-for-like shop sales fell 0.4% on an underlying basis.

But its online sales leapt 33% higher in the quarter.

Shares lifted 3% after the update.

Chief executive Nick Wilkinson said: “We delivered a good trading performance in the first quarter.

“We continue to improve the multichannel experience for our customers and our stores play a vital role in this.”

But he added that the group remains “cautious about the months ahead due to the level of market and customer uncertainty”.

Dunelm, which employs around 10,000 staff, recently posted a 6.7% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £102 million for the year to June 30.

It blamed management upheaval, an £8.4 million from its recent Worldstores acquisition and difficult trading conditions for the second year in a row of falling profits.

But recently-appointed boss Mr Wilkinson, who started in February, is leading a further push online, including a new IT system for Dunelm.com, which will see it launch a click and collect offering and improved delivery.

His appointment follows a shake-up at the top, with chairman Andy Harrison forced to step in last year after former chief executive John Browett stepped down at the end of August for “personal reasons” following a brief stint in charge.

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