Flooring retailer Carpetright is to launch a transactional web site next year, but still warned that trading will remain tough for the next 18 months.

The retailer, which is to acquire bed specialist Sleepright, revealed a 12.5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in its UK and Ireland business in the 25 weeks to October 25.

Total sales dropped 11.2 per cent, although like-for-likes in the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland rose 2.3 per cent.

The web site will be live by March. Group finance director Neil Page said customers are unlikely to migrate online in huge numbers, but “we want to give them alternative channels in which to shop”.

Carpetright will start selling beds in 200 stores “within a few years” following the acquisition of Sleepright.

The deal is part of Carpetright’s continued efforts to “increase profitability by looking at complementary markets”.

Seymour Pierce analyst Freddie George said: “The trading update was poor, but not as bad as some had expected. Management appears to remain cautious on the outlook.”