Carpetright promotions boost first-quarter sales

Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:40am EDT

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LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Carpetright, Britain's biggest floor coverings retailer, said underlying sales had risen 6.1 percent in its first quarter although margins had been hurt by promotions.

The firm has had a torrid time of late, issuing a string of profit warnings and announcing a 53 percent slump in annual profit last month as improvements to stores and ranges failed to offset weak trade in Britain and the Netherlands.

Carpetright said on Tuesday sales at UK stores open over a year rose 6.1 percent in the 13 weeks to July 26, helped by a particularly strong July, though gross profit margins fell 260 basis points due to a roll out of promotions.

The firm said it now expected a full-year UK decline of between 50 and 100 basis points, as opposed to previous guidance of flat margins, but said its expectations for full-year profit remained unchanged.

In its European division, made up of Ireland, Netherlands and Belgium, like-for-like sales fell 3.6 percent, although the firm said the latter two countries had returned to profit in the quarter, aided by a rise in gross profit margins.

Shares in the firm, which trades from 467 stores, closed at 530 pence on Monday, down 18 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 360 million pounds. They were flat in early trading on Tuesday. (Reporting by Neil Maidment)