Carpetright defies tough market with profits rise

Flooring retailer Carpetright reported a 33.3 per cent increase in annual pre-tax profits, for what the company's chairman and chief executive Lord Harris described as 'a tough year for the market'.

The retailer achieved pre-tax profits of£67.1 million. Total sales were£452.7 million, up 3.7 per cent.

Carpetright plans to open several more small format stores, to move into smaller towns where it is unrepresented. The retailer has opened 20 of the 5,000 sq ft (465 sq m) shops in the past two years, but aims to open 12 more this year, with an ambition for between 80 and 100 smaller branches.

The total store target has also been increased from 400 to 450 stores. 'We are a long way off from being a mature business,' said Carpetright group finance director Darren Shapland.

The Benelux division, which the retailer bought as a loss-making business, has achieved its first underlying profit of£1.8 million. The company hopes to increase its Benelux market share from 7 to 14 per cent over the next three to five years, and plans a further 25 stores in the region.

Carpetright chief executive Lord Harris said: 'We have grown market share in what has been a difficult market.'

The retailer is also looking to expand further into mainland Europe through acquisitions. 'It will be somewhere in Northern Europe, such as Scandinavia, or further East, such as Poland or Hungary,' said Shapland.

The retailer is also in talks with department stores about rolling out its In House Carpets concession, which operates from 38 Allders stores. A deal is likely within six months.