Carpetright Produces Strong UK Results, Despite Pressure On Domestic Housing

Like-for-like sales at European carpet retailer Carpetright increased by 3.2% in the UK, despite the domestic housing market experiencing growth problems in 2012.

The group recently undertook a store revamp across 122 of its British stores, which now appears to be paying dividends for the 13 weeks to 26 January results.

Sales outside of the UK came under pressure however, particularly in the Netherlands, which according to Darren Shapland, Carpetright's chief executive, is suffering from "a very weak consumer environment".

"The UK performance reflects the success of our programme of self-help initiatives, including the development of our bed business, introduction of our laminate range to more stores and the ongoing programme of store refurbishments, all of which gained momentum in the period," Shapland said in a statement.

"Our business in the rest of Europe contrasts a solid performance in both Belgium and the Republic of Ireland, offset by the continued weak performance of our business in the Netherlands."

Business analyst Company Watch's Nick Hood told the Huffington Post UK Carpetright's sales were "great" considering the depressed UK housing market.

"The store revamp programme seems to be paying handsome dividends in persuading customers to open their wallets, as they enjoy the improved shopping experience and the broader product ranges on show. Europe is another matter altogether, the Netherlands in particular looks like being an ongoing struggle," he said.

“Management will need to be mindful that they are operating from a fragile financial platform, with a strongly negative working capital position which is heavily reliant on the support of its suppliers, which has proved to be a vulnerable place to be for some other retailers.

"It also carries a considerable burden of intangible assets from past deals at a time when many companies are being forced to keep these hypothetical values under constant review. The saving grace is that Carpetright is not heavily indebted."

Earlier this month, Carpetright expressed its interest in buying up some of troubled bed retailer Dreams' stores. Other potential suitors, reported in the Evening Standard on 21 January, include Sun European Partners, Steinhoff International, the owner of Harveys and Bensons for Beds, and beds firm Silentnight.

Dreams' owner Exponent asked accountancy firm Ernst & Young to sell the company earlier this year. Dreams has been in talks over a possible refinancing for more than a year, and its widely believed it has too much debt, and needs a cash injection.

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