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Carpetright warns over tough market

CARPETRIGHT yesterday warned of tough market conditions despite recording a 64 per cent increase in profit.

The flooring firm – traditionally seen as the first in and then the first out of recession – also said it would be offering discounts to public service workers in a bid to drum up business.

Carpetright made an underlying pre-tax profit of £28.2m in the year to 1 May compared with analysts’ consensus forecast of £30.1m.

The profit was up from £17.2m in 2008-09 but under half the £62.1m made in 2007-08.

Sales rose 3.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis across the firm’s 586 stores in the UK and Ireland.

Chairman and chief executive Lord Harris said: “It’s very, very tough out there but we’re holding our own and gaining market share.”

He said he expected consumer demand across Europe to remain subdued but maintained the company was confident about the future when economic conditions improve.

The company said public service workers would be given discounts as they face being hit in the pocket through government cuts.

“In the public sector, we’ve signed up about 150,000 people who work as police officers and wardens to give them a small discount,” Harris said. Carpetright, which ended the year with net debt of £71.3m, is doubling its dividend payment to 16p. Harris’s family owns around 25 per cent of the shares. Before yesterday shares in Carpetright had lost a quarter of their value over the last six months.

They dipped once again after the market reacted coolly to the latestfigures.