Carpetright sales slow on snow chaos

Carpetright, Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer, saw sales growth slow in the three months to January, missing forecasts as trade in the early part of 2010 was hit by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures.

The firm’s stock fell three per cent to 943p, making it the top midcap loser, though chairman and chief executive Lord Harris said his expectations for the year to end of April 2010 were unchanged.

Carpetright considers itself to be a company that is “first in, first out” of recession and its shares have more than doubled over the last year against a 59 per cent rise in the FTSE All Share General Retailers Index.

Harris said trading in the early part of the quarter was strong, with double digit like-for-like growth. But then the snow then took its toll.

He said: “January was a poor month, the [first] two weeks of the snow [trade] was down 30 per cent, the third week of it was down 20 per cent.”

Nick Bubb, analyst at Arden Partners, said his current year pre-tax profit forecast of £37m now looked “quite stretched”. UK consumer data has been mixed over the last month. Official data said sales volumes rose much less than expected in December, flying in the face of strong trading reports from most retailers for the key Christmas period.