United Carpets has reported a 5.4% increase in like-for-like sales in the 21 weeks of its second half to date.

The Board said it now expect its final results for the year ending March 31 to be “materially better than market expectations”.

The retailer said the sales increase was “encouraging” and better than expected but cautioned that it was up against weak comparables – this time last year the retailer’s sales were affected by heavy snow. 

United Carpets chief executive Paul Eyre said: “We have been encouraged with trading in the early part of this calendar year, which will flow through to better than expected year-end numbers. The changes we have made have transformed our business and with the economy as a whole appearing to move in the right direction, I am increasingly optimistic about the future.”

The retailer closed a “significant proportion” of its store base in 2012 when it opted to “re-evaluate the business, to create a smaller entity, better able to operate successfully in the current retail environment”.

United Carpets cut its portfolio from 85 stores in 2012 to 59 today, of which 48 are franchised and 11 are corporate stores.

“The core store network has responded well to the changes and is showing the benefits of the restructuring, particularly in the last few months,” United Carpets added.

“The Board also believes there has been a slight improvement in confidence amongst consumers, however the overall market still remains very challenging. Our core combination of providing high quality and good value flooring ranges together with a continued focus on improving the in-store customer experience is producing positive results.”