Flooring specialist strives for ‘service like Sainsbury’s and value of Tesco’ as it ramps up growth

Carpetright has outlined plans to ramp up service standards and set out ambitions for 150 high street stores and European expansion.

The market-leading floorings specialist believes a reputation for service will provide a key advantage but insisted it would not jeopardise its traditional credentials and appeal.

Carpetright has launched a company-wide programme, Project 20:20, designed to remodel the business by placing more emphasis on training.

It will give greater emphasis to services including fitting and estimating, and train store staff to advise customers on trends - something it has never been done before.

Carpetright commercial director Martin Harris said: “We want the consumer to have the same feeling they have towards Carpetright as they do for Sainsbury’s. As a flooring specialists we need the service proposition of Sainsbury’s and the value proposition of Tesco.”

He explained: “Our free services cost us money but if you give the customer more there’s an opportunity to take market share.”

Harris said Project 20:20 is one of Carpetright’s biggest undertakings, into which it will invest between £1m and £2m a year. He said that the business needs to “update” itself “in a few areas” and “ease up on discounting”. However, he stressed Carpetright would not be “going upmarket”.

“This is not revolution; it’s evolution. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” said Harris. “We’re pretty good but we can be much better.”

The retailer will also revamp its products, introducing more fashionable lines. A small proportion will be “very trendy, avant-garde and completely off the wall”.

Harris also revealed plans to open between 100 and 150 high street stores. It has about 30 at present.

He said: “There is a great opportunity on the high street with a 3,000 sq ft model. We now have the infrastructure to deliver a high street business.”

Harris maintained Carpetright has “quite a bit of growth left” and that in 10 years’ time he expects the retailer to be “much more European”, with plans to open stores in “colder countries, including all the Scandinavian countries” as well as Germany and the Far East in the long term. He said Carpetright is in talks about acquiring a European carpets business.