- Like-for-like sales2 in the UK increased by 1.7%, continuing the positive trend experienced in the second half of the last financial year. Total sales in the UK declined by 2.1% due to the reduction in the number of stores year on year.
- Store base decreased by four during the period to 486, of which 63 have now been refurbished.
Rest of Europe
- In local currency terms, total sales in the Rest of Europe (Netherlands, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland) decreased by 5.2% with like-for-like sales down 6.3%. After allowing for the movement in exchange rates, this translates to a total sales decline in Europe of 13.6%.
- Store base increased by one to 143 and commenced a trial selling beds in one store, in the Netherlands.
Darren Shapland, Chief Executive, said:
“We continue to be encouraged by the like-for-like sales growth within the UK business. Excluding the expected decrease in sales from the wholesale business3, our core UK retail business would have reported like-for-like sales growth of 5.3%. This reflects, in part, the success of self-help actions such as the development of our bed proposition, extension of our laminate range to more stores and the impact of our store refurbishment programme. We also recognise that, this period does include some benefit from the unusually wet weather, which has produced consistently positive customer footfall to our stores. The gross margin for the period continued to improve in line with our previously announced expectations and we continue to project the full year to be in the range of 200-250 basis points above the prior year.
“The key driver in the performance of the Rest of Europe has been the deterioration of consumer confidence producing a weak and volatile floor coverings market in the Netherlands. The Republic of Ireland and Belgium continued to deliver sales growth.
“The result for this first quarter is in line with management's expectations and at this early stage, our expectations for the year as a whole remain unchanged.”
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