Consumer purse tightening blamed
Catastrophic trading at sofas specialist ScS has prompted a collapse in first-half profits and a profit warning.

Pressure on income and shoppers' reluctance to splash out on higher value products, combined with tightening of credit terms by finance providers, were among the factors blamed for a 54 per cent plunge in interim profits to£4.7 million. Sales rose 6 per cent to£113.4 million for the period.

Chairman Mike Browne said the results were 'a great disappointment and reflect the extremely tough trading conditions which have prevailed during the period'. He expected conditions to remain challenging and reported that the like-for-like sales order intake for the first 32 weeks of the year was down 10 per cent. 'We do not feel confident that we will meet our expectations for the 10-month period to July 31,' he said.

Browne said ScS will continue to invest in stores and staff training. He added: 'Alongside this investment, we will continue to review and assess our product range, pricing, content and use of advertising media.'

The results - brought forward from next week - were issued after the market closed. Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner cut his full-year forecast from£16 million to£14.5 million. He said: 'The company has been overoptimistic in the past, but is still a quality player in the furniture market.'