Topps Tiles sales slump in final quarter

Published:  05 December, 2011

UK: Topps Tiles blamed low consumer confidence and falling footfall for a dire fourth quarter, which dragged down its annual profits by more than a third.

On the high street, Topps Tiles' like-for-like sales fell by 2% over the 52 weeks to 1 October, but plummeted by 9.5% over the final three months.

Matt Williams, the company's chief executive, said Topps had raised its market share but admitted: "For us, all the damage was really done in the fourth quarter.  It really hit us out of the blue – the lurch down in trade in Q4. It is really down to lower consumer confidence and the decline in footfall."

But the fall in its sales has slowed in the past seven weeks to be down by 6.9%.  Pre-tax profits at Topps Tiles, which has 321 UK stores, dropped 36% to £7.9m over the year, compared with the 53-week period in 2009-10.

Total sales fell 4% to £175.5m and the group's gross margin rose to 59.6%, from 58.7%.

Mr Williams attributed this to Topps opening a second warehouse adjacent to its Leicester headquarters that allowed it to hold more stock from overseas and rely less on third-party distributors.

Mr Williams said he had been surprised that consumers had continued to be "adventurous and inspirational" in their purchasing of tiles since the start of the downturn in 2008, as opposed to relying on "boring" beige and white.

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