Carpet and floor coverings specialist Carpetright’s like-for-likes edged up 0.6% in its second quarter.
In the 12 weeks to October 13, total UK sales declined by 0.6% as a result of two store closures in the period. The retailer, which has 484 stores, has now refurbished 82 stores.
Carpetright chief executive Darren Shapland said excluding an expected contraction in sales at the retailer’s wholesale business, like-for-like sales increased 2.4%.
Like-for-likes slumped 12.7% in the rest of Europe and total sales dropped 12.2%, affected by “very weak” consumer confidence in the Netherlands.
Shapland said: “While the underlying floor coverings market remains volatile, our self-help actions such as the development of our bed proposition, extension of our laminate range to more stores and the impact of our store refurbishment programme, continue to deliver positive results.”
Carpetright’s gross margin improved and it is on track to deliver a full-year improvement of between 200 and 250 basis points, most of which is expected to be realised in the first half.
Carpetright will report its first half results on December 11.
Shapland told Retail Week that the overall performance was in line with expectations.
“The UK was a little bit better, from self help [initiatives],” he said. “We’ve clearly taken market share. And Belgium and the Republic of Ireland are still okay but the rest of Europe [division] was brought down by a more challenging environment in the Netherlands.”
The Government in the Netherlands collapsed in late spring, putting fragile consumer confidence under more pressure, said Shapland. But he insisted the market was not suffering from long term structural change.
While Shapland - who joined the retailer in May, becoming the first person to lead Carpetright other than its founder Lord Harris - said that he was “quite encouraged” by the UK, he did not want to call a permanent improvement in consumer sentiment yet.
“It’s very difficult to read. The consumer environment is still tough,” he said. “Our focus is on how we can help ourselves.”
Rival United Carpets was bought out of prepack administration earlier this month, and will close some stores as part of the deal. Shapland said the store closures may be a “bit of a pain” in the short term due to Closing Down Sales.
But he added: “In the long term we should do better in some of those areas [where stores are closing].”