October 11, 2018 / 7:11 AM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 2-Dunelm shares rise after online sales climb

* Focus on core website boosts Q1 online sales

* Revenue remains about flat after withdrawal from Worldstores

* Stays cautious of market level & customer uncertainty

* Shares rise as much as 9 percent (Recasts; adds details on quarter, background, stock movement)

Oct 11 (Reuters) - British home furnishings retailer Dunelm Group on Thursday reported like-for-like quarterly sales growth, helped by higher online demand and a sharp focus on its core brands, sending the company’s shares up as much as 9 percent.

Dunelm has spent heavily to prop up its online business including buying Worldstores.co.uk, which it is still integrating. It has also divested Achica.com and shut down other sites to focus on its core website Dunelm.com.

Like-for-like sales through Dunelm’s online channels grew by a third in the first quarter of its latest financial year, while like-for-like sales at stores rose 1.3 percent. Overall, like-for-like sales were up 4.2 percent.

Shares in Dunelm were 4.3 percent higher at 566 pence at 0830 GMT, second biggest percentage gainer on London’s midcap index.

The company, which operates 172 stores, said revenue was nearly flat at 248.2 million pounds ($327.7 million) in the quarter ended Sept. 29, as it exited from the Worldstores business.

Total revenue growth at Dunelm’s continuing business was 5.8 percent.

Under its new Chief Executive Officer Nick Wilkinson’s leadership, the company has focused on controlling costs in hopes of riding out the tough retail environment and closed or sold loss-making Worldstores outlets.

“Whilst we are cautious about the months ahead due to the level of market and customer uncertainty, I see plenty of opportunity over the medium term,” Wilkinson said.

Dunelm, founded in 1979, said it will open one more store before the end of the year. $1 = 0.7573 pounds) (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Keith Weir)

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