Carpetright has revealed a better than expected first half after an improvement in the second quarter.

Like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland increased 3.5% in the 25 weeks to October 24, when total sales climbed 9.5%. Group revenue rose 8.9%.

At Carpetright’s European arm, comprising the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland, total sales fell 4.5% in constant currency and like-for-likes slid 5.4%, hit by “slowing economic conditions”, said chairman and chief executive Lord Harris of Peckham. Allowing for the movement in exchange rates, total sales increased 6.4%.

Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert said the numbers are “much better than expected” and the retailer is “already benefiting” from the collapse of rival Allied Carpets in July. She added: “Carpetright will emerge from this recession in a far stronger and more dominant UK market position as it takes advantage of the structural changes in its marketplace.”

Singer analyst Matthew McEach­ran said: “With limited risks from the grocers and the internet, Carpetright is extremely well placed to pick up one-off market share opportunities.”

The retailer opened 11 stores in the last 12 weeks of the period. UK gross profit percentage dropped by about 60 basis points in the first half.

Harris said talks with house builders and insurers have begun to secure additional business. He said: “We are pleased with our overall performance during the period. We expect to deliver a half-year profit performance ahead of expectations.”