LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Topps Tiles, Britain's largest specialist tile retailer, said a strong pick-up in trade over December had helped it to a better than expected start to its new financial year.
The group, which has 328 stores and also sells flooring, said sales at stores open over a year rose 9.3 percent in the first 13 weeks to Dec. 28, ahead of analysts' forecasts for a 6 to 7 percent jump.
"Whilst we are encouraged by this and remain optimistic about prospects for 2014, at this early stage in the year we remain cautious of projecting forward this level of performance," Topps Chief Executive Matthew Williams said.
Topps posted its first rise in adjusted pretax profit since 2007 in November, and according to analysts, is well placed to benefit from an improving economy and recovering housing market.
Britain's economy enjoyed some of the fastest growth of any major industrialised economy in the first nine months of 2013 and data on Friday showed that British lenders approved the highest number of mortgages in more than five years in November.
Shares in Topps Tiles have more than doubled in a year to 129 pence, valuing the firm at around 250 million pounds.