• Topps Tiles bids to win shoppers from retracting rivals B&Q and Homebase
  • Boss Matthew Williams says their store closure programmes are “good news” for Topps
  • The retailer is also revamping ranges to woo customers from its DIY rivals

Topps Tiles boss Matthew Williams has set his sights on wooing B&Q and Homebase shoppers with new ranges in a bid to grow market share.

The retailer has already taken a third of the sector one year ahead of schedule after winning customers with its strategy of ‘out specialising the specialists’.

Topps has invested in improving its ranges, providing an “inspirational shopping experience” underpinned by “world-class” customer service and improving convenience across its channels to grow sales, while work continues on “extending the appeal of the Topps brand” through new stores and store revamps.

But despite securing £1 in every £3 spent in the UK domestic tile market, Williams has refused to rest on his laurels and wants to capitalise on the portfolio reviews being undertaken by his competitors.

B&Q owner Kingfisher revealed in March that it would close 60 of the DIY retailer’s stores as part of a radical restructure of the group under new boss Véronique Laury. Rival Homebase is also in the process of right-sizing its estate. Last October it earmarked 25% of its then 323-strong store portfolio for closure by 2017.

Multichannel approach

“Our experience is that you need stores to take market share in tiles, so competitors closing is good news for us.”

Matthew Williams, Topps Tiles

Topps, which today unveiled a 1.8% rise in full-year pre-tax profit to £17m driven by record sales of £212.2m, said that 99% of its customers visit a store “at some stage in their shopping journey.”

Williams said 70% of its customers also use its ecommerce platform, but only around 11% currently pay for their tiles online. He said Topps, which currently trades from 346 locations, is targeting an expanded portfolio of 450 stores to capitalise on the role of bricks and mortar as its rivals retract.

Williams told Retail Week: “We still think we can grow our share of the domestic market and we’re quite keen to have a look at what the opportunity is to make a foray into the commercial market as well, which is almost as big as the domestic market.

“We already make some sales to smaller businesses, without even really trying, so we think that’s a good place to start.

“But we also think there’s the opportunity to continue to take market share in the domestic market. We are seeing the DIY sheds, particularly B&Q and Homebase, close stores. Both of those are only half way through their current closure programmes, so we think there is more market share to come back to the table from the DIY sheds.

“Our experience is that you need stores to take market share in tiles, so competitors closing is good news for us.”

Range investment

As well as revamping and expanding its store portfolio, Topps is also investing in developing new ranges and revamping existing lines in its assault on new consumers.

Williams described the range as the “daddy of them all” when it came to Topps’ three strategic pillars and said “differentiated product development and innovation” would help grow its customer base further.

That innovation has seen the retailer launch its new regional reflections range, which mimics stones from quarries around the UK using inkjet printers to print glazes on to tiles and create more realistic finishes.

Williams said that range was “off to a great start” and was “a great demonstration of how we are leading our market in terms of innovation and design in tiles.”

He added: “We have also relaunched our entry level ranges, which we call unbeatable tile value.

“We have relaunched that this year with the DIY store closures in mind and we’ve also extended those ranges as well.

“Customers can get incredible value in terms of quality, design and exclusivity all at amazing prices.

“So our confidence about taking market share is still there, but what the market does is what is completely out of our control. If there were a challenge, that is it, but we feel we can counter whatever the market throws at us by continuing to implement our strategy and take market share.”