Carpetright enjoys second sales increase
Flooring and beds chain Carpetright has enjoyed a second successive rise in UK quarterly sales as it again sets out to attract more upmarket shoppers.
UK like for like sales climbed by 7% in the 11 weeks to 11 October following a 6.1% rise in the previous quarter. This resulted in a 6.6% rise in the 24 week period.
Total sales were 5.7% higher in the 11 weeks and 5.2% in the 24 week period.
Wilf Walsh, Carpetright chief executive reassured shareholders that full year gross margins remained on track to be between 50 and 100 basis points lower after it invested in promotions to attract shoppers in the first quarter.
A further seven UK stores were refurbished, increasing the number to 290 of its 463 branches.
He also had better news on its Dutch, Belgian and Irish operations anticipating an end to losses after like for like sales dropped by 0.5%. 'Trading across our Rest of Europe business has continued to improve with a further reduction in the rate of sales decline, arresting the very significant fall seen over the last 30 months, particularly in our Netherlands business. We expect this, along with an improvement in gross profit margin and a reduction in operating costs, will result in our businesses in the Netherlands and Belgium to be profitable for the first half of the financial year compared to the trading loss experienced in the prior year.'
He also said that the chain was looking to attract John Lewis shoppers and consumers who prefer independent flooring retailers. His comments echo that of former director Martin Harris in 2009, who said the chain needed to 'reassure middle class Britain.'
'My challenge is, to use The Good Life analogy, that I have one side of the fence well and truly covered but Margot is my customer. How do I convince her that she is mad not to come to me? Yes, it might not be the perceived thing with the POS saying 50% off and I'm a discounter, but actually the end to end service is as good as anywhere else and better than most. That's my challenge, to still have the 50% off message but almost reassure middle class Britain that actually it's OK to come into my store because I have so much more. I challenge them just to use us once – I think they'll be surprised and use us twice, three times,' Harris told Interiors Monthly.