Topps Tiles gets boost from UK housing market

Kasmira Jefford
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TILING specialist Topps Tiles posted upbeat figures yesterday in a further sign that a rising housing market is having a positive effect on spending.

Topps Tiles, which has 328 stores across the country, said like-for-like sales jumped by 9.3 per cent in its first quarter to 28 December, boosting shares by 2.9 per cent yesterday.

Meanwhile Dunelm, another homeware specialist which sells everything from bedding to kitchenware, saw underlying sales rise by 2.9 per cent after a 5.3 per cent decline in the first quarter when the hot weather kept people away from out-of-town stores.

Yet Dunelm shares closed down 3.7 per cent yesterday after the group said it expected to post a first-half profit of £61.5m, only slightly up on last year, after investing in its first television advertising campaign.

Nonetheless, the two retailers’ fortunes are closely linked to the housing market as improved confidence and a pick-up in housing transactions leads to more people refurbishing their homes. With house prices in December up 8.4 per cent from a year earlier, and set to carry on rising this year, this could lend a further boost to home improvement retailers.

However, Topps’ chief exec Matthew Williams warned that it was still to early to forecast a significant recovery, with housing transactions still to reach levels seen before the recession.

“While we are encouraged by this and remain optimistic about prospects for 2014, at this early stage in the year we remain cautious of projecting forward this level of performance.,” he said.