BRITISH retailer Topps Tiles posted a second-quarter fall in underlying sales, blaming a dip in confidence as the general election nears and consumers brace themselves for tax rises and job cuts.
“If I cast my mind back to previous elections, they’ve never done us any favours that’s for sure,” Matt Williams, chief executive of the tile and wood flooring seller, said.
“The lines on which the election will be fought may be a little uncomfortable for people,” he said.
His comments chimed with those from Carpetright, Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer, which earlier this month issued a profit warning.
Shares in the 309-store Topps Tiles, which had already fallen 24 per cent over the last month, closed up 0.6 per cent at 800p.
“Like Carpetright and the DIY players, this update confirms that hard-line retailers have been faced with very volatile trading since Christmas,” said Kate Calvert, analyst at Shore Capital.
Topps Tiles said it expected to report sales at stores open over a year up 2.1 per cent over the 27 weeks to 3 April.
That compares with a rise of 5.5 per cent for the first 14 weeks of the period, its first-quarter.
Williams said the figures equated to a like-for-like sales fall of about 1.6 per cent in the firm’s second-quarter.
He said snow and sub-zero temperatures in January and February had played their part but were not solely responsible for the shortfall.
Total first-half revenue was forecast up 4.5 per cent at £91.5m.
Prior to yesterday’s update analysts were forecasting a consensus pretax profit of £19.9m for the year to the end of September 2010, up from £16.3m in the previous year.
City A.M. Reporter