January 28, 2014 / 9:26 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Carpetright warns on profit again as Netherlands woes deepen

(Adds details, shares, comments)

By Neil Maidment

LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer Carpetright Plc has warned on its yearly profit for the second time in almost four months, as deteriorating trade in the Netherlands offset an improving performance in the UK.

The company, whose boss Darren Shapland quit after October’s profit warning, said on Tuesday an expected loss at its Dutch business meant it now anticipated full-year underlying pretax profit to be between 7 million pounds ($11.6 million) and 8 million.

That was below analyst forecasts ranging from 9 to 10 million, already lowered from 13 to 14.6 million on the back of the October alert.

In a statement, Executive Chairman Philip Harris said it was hard to call the full-year result.

“Predicting the final outcome for the year with any accuracy is difficult and the result for the year will depend on our performance in the final quarter,” said Harris, the group’s founder and major shareholder.

Shares in the firm, which trades from 473 UK stores and 142 elsewhere in Europe, fell 3.2 percent to 550 pence by 0842 GMT.

Carpetright said sales at UK stores open for a year or more rose 1.9 percent in the 13 weeks to Jan. 25, its fiscal third quarter, compared with a first-half decline of 0.8 percent, as measures including store revamps and wider ranges helped counter tough trading conditions due to cautious consumer spending.

The group said it had yet to see any significant upturn in trading from a revival in the UK housing market.

Meanwhile the company said extremely difficult economic conditions in the Netherlands pushed like-for-like sales in its smaller European unit - also taking in Ireland and Belgium - down 7.7 percent, having fallen 8.6 percent in the first half.

The Netherlands has seen a big downturn in the home sector as consumers reign in spending. The group said it was revamping stores and had enhanced its website to help improve the business, but said its performance would result in its European unit making a loss of around 3 million pounds for 2013-14.

Carpetright Finance Director Neil Page told Reuters the group remained committed to its 95-store Netherlands business.

“We believe we’ve still got a business there that will be stronger when the recovery starts to pick up,” he said. ($1 = 0.6034 British pounds) (Editing by James Davey and David Holmes)

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