Carpetright’s boss has expressed bitter disappointment at the outcome of the EU referendum but insists the business is “full steam ahead”.
The retailer’s chief executive Wilf Walsh said that he is “personally surprised and bitterly disappointed” about the outcome of last week’s referendum.
However, as the carpets and flooring specialist unveiled a 33% increase in full-year profits, Walsh told Retail Week that the business is in “good shape” and at this stage moving “full steam ahead” with its regeneration plans.
Earlier today Walsh unveiled plans to refurbish 100 stores and roll out a new brand identity across the estate, but the floor specialist’s share price has plummeted 18.8% since markets opened this morning.
Walsh said: “It’s too early to call and it’s certainly too early to talk ourselves into a recession, but compared with everyone else in the flooring sector, if consumer confidence remains stable I think we are well placed to take advantage of that.”
He added: “The one thing I can’t fix is consumer confidence.”
However, he insisted that the business, which imports 60% of its carpets from Europe, is in “good shape to increase market share whatever happens”.
On the issue of inflation, Walsh said: “We have to wait and see, but we have a range of plans in place.
“The one thing I can’t fix is consumer confidence”
Wilf Walsh, Carpetright
“There may be price increases if inflation comes, or it may involve cost-cutting, but it’s the same for everybody in our business.
“The important question is, can you do a better job than the competition and are you better placed? And it’s my view that we are.”
Move or improve
Speaking to Retail Week about the future of the housing market Walsh said: “If people aren’t moving they may well be improving. I would hope we are fairly resilient to whatever comes our way.”
He added that the business always has a contingency plan in place because the industry is “not moving from a period of boom” and the past two years have been “fairly milky” in terms of consumer confidence.
He said: “I’m personally surprised and bitterly disappointed but we’re going to have to deal with it.”
Ann Summers’ chief executive Jacqueline Gold said: “I’m absolutely devastated by the decision and we’re already seeing the fallout in a matter of hours. Nobody knew what Brexit would look like, which is why Leave is the most dangerous thing for retailers.”