Weak Dutch sales take shine off Carpetright figures

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Flooring retailer Carpetright has blamed the weak performance of its business in the Netherlands for a drop in sales across Europe, although its UK sales benefited from a store revamp programme.

The firm said like-for-like sales in Europe fell 11.5 per cent during the 13 weeks to 26 January, with a “solid” performance in Belgium and the Republic of Ireland offset by continued weakness in the Netherlands.

Chief executive Darren Shapland said: “Our focus in the Netherlands is on protecting profit in what remains a very weak consumer environment.”

In the UK, Carpetright closed four stores during the third quarter, leaving it with 476 branches, of which 122 have been modernised.

Like-for-like UK sales rose 3.2 per cent, but Shapland said the increase would have been 4.7 per cent had it not been for a contraction in sales from the group’s wholesale business.

He added: “We believe this performance reflects the success of our programme of self-help initiatives, including the development of our bed business, introduction of our laminate range to more stores and the ongoing programme of store refurbishments, all of which gained momentum in the period.”

Shore Capital analyst David O’Brien said: “The outcome for the third quarter, which is the busiest trading period across the year, was marginally ahead of our expectations.”