Carpetright facing a tough year ahead

CARPETRIGHT, Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer, posted a drop in first-quarter underlying sales yesterday and said it was cautious about the outlook for consumer spending for the rest of its financial year.

The firm, which runs over 700 stores, said sales at British and Irish stores open at least a year fell 3.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to 31 July, compared with a 1.5 per cent rise in the final quarter of its last financial year.

Chairman and chief executive Lord Philip Harris said: “We remain cautious about the outlook for consumer spending for the balance of the year and as a consequence continue to manage the business by exerting tight control over all costs, capital expenditure, stock and cashflow.”

Carpetright has 536 stores and 52 concessions across the UK and Ireland. It operates under the Carpetright, Storeys and Sleepright brands. It also has 116 outlets in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Arden analyst Nick Bubb said: “Carpetright always is optimistic. History should have taught investors by now that things never turn out as well as Phil Harris thinks, but his status as a bellwether of the sector (first into recession, first out etc) is remarkably undiminished. We had expected quarter one sales to remain disappointingly sluggish and in fact they are poor. On that basis the full-year is unlikely to produce more than a limited recovery.”

Harris had previously warned the UK could be heading for a double-dip recession.