Topps Tiles’ boss has claimed its boutique format has changed shoppers’ opinion of the chain and encouraged first-time customers to visit.

Chief executive Matthew Williams said its high street small-format stores – intended initially to reach areas that larger core stores were unable to fit into – mean more shoppers are giving “Topps Tiles a go”. 

“It’s playing a role for us in getting first-time customers to potentially change their opinions about Topps Tiles,” he added.

Of its 343 stores nationwide the retailer has 13 boutique stores, which cover 1,000 sq ft compared with the average 5,000 sq ft Topps Tiles shop.

Its first boutique store opened in Walton-on-Thames in January 2014 and the retailer has secured sites for two new boutique openings. 

Williams said he did not want to stipulate how many boutique stores they planned to open but revealed an overall UK store target of 450.

“We’re staying relatively flexible. Our preference is to open core stores where we can, but boutiques are a useful string to our bow,” he said.

Williams’ comments came as the specialist today reported a 4.9% rise in like-for-likes for the quarter ending April 2, building on the 4.4% increase it unveiled during its first quarter.

Peel Hunt analyst John Stevenson said Topps Tile’s boutique stores are an “opportunity for a more extensive refit of the core estate”.

He said he can see a time when “the look and feel of core stores and boutique stores progressively merge into a consistent format”.

Topps Tiles has also rolled out a series of 2,500 sq ft hybrid stores in order to bridge the gap between its boutique format and larger warehouse stores, as well as a lab store format where customers are able to trial more practical elements.