Topps Tiles seeks Dutch growth

Ceramics specialist Topps Tiles believes there is room for up to 30 stores in Holland if its fledgling European business performs well within the next year.

Topps founder Barry Bester, who has moved from the chief executive's seat into the new role of executive chairman, said expansion in the Netherlands could happen in 'two to three years, easy'.

The retailer forged a 50-50 joint venture with Dutch business Floorstore in June, and there are six shops in Holland.

Bester, who has handed over the chief executive's reins to former chief operating officer Nick Ounstead, added: 'We want to expand and if it goes well in Holland, we could have 25 to 30 stores there. The rest of Europe is an option for us.'

Ounstead will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business, while Bester will liaise with the City and focus on strategy.

Co-founder Stuart Williams took on the role of deputy chairman at Tuesday's AGM. He will concentrate on property and overseas development.

Topps reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 5.8 per cent for the 18 weeks to October 5. Overall sales growth in the same period was 18 per cent.

The 200-store retailer will open six new UK shops by the end of next month and is hoping to have a total of 350 by the end of 2006.