Carpetright chief executive Darren Shapland has insisted that the flooring giant’s fall in first-quarter sales was a “blip” due to the heat wave.
Carpetright reported UK like-for-likes down 1.9% in the 12 weeks to July 20 as the hot weather kept people away from stores. The retailer lost about £3.5m in sales due to the heat wave, and about £1.8m in profit.
Shapland said Carpetright expects to claw back some of the lost sales. “A good chunk of it will come back,” he said. “We’ll probably get half of it back, maybe even a little bit more than that.
“Last year we benefitted from the cool and wet summer. We’ve seen a reversal of that. It’s a short blip.”
He said Carpetright’s strategy, which includes modernising its stores, rolling out the bed business and investing in digital, is “very much on track”. He added: “We’re getting good results from self help. We’re growing market share.”
Shapland said Carpetright’s like-for-likes were up nearly 3% in the first nine weeks of the quarter, but that trading slumped to double-digit negative in the final three weeks when the hot weather hit.
“The last three weeks have been tough,” he said. “It’s been a bit difficult but it is what it is. The grocers will have had a fantastic three weeks but people in our space will have suffered.”
Shapland pointed out that the first quarter is traditionally the retailer’s quietest. “If we’d had a heat wave in September we’d be a bit more concerned,” he said.
The retailer was also hit in January when heavy snow fell. Shapland said there was not much Carpetright could do to shield itself from the extremes in the weather. “We could diversify into snow shovels and strawberries,” he joked.
Shapland noted that mortgage approvals, which are intrinsically linked to sale of housing products, are on the up but cautioned that the increase was “from a low base”. “The sentiment and direction of trade is encouraging, but we’re a bit cautious,” he said.
Total group sales fell 3.5% while its struggling European arm recorded a 10.6% fall in like-for-like sales as the weak Dutch economy continued to impact sales.