Retailer Topps Tiles takes a battering as homeowners curb DIY spending

PUBLISHED: 13:22 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:22 27 February 2020

Topps Tiles have seen sales take a tumble after homeowners curbed their DIY spending.  Pic: Archant library

Topps Tiles have seen sales take a tumble after homeowners curbed their DIY spending. Pic: Archant library

Sales for the tile retailer, with seven outlets in Norfolk, have continued to plummet as homeowners tighten their DIY purse-strings.

The firm, which also had a store in Lowestoft, Suffolk and Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said sales in its second quarter so far have not improved since a dismal end to 2019. Trading was affected then by election uncertainty.

Like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to February 22 dropped 5.5%, following a 5.4% drop seen in the previous quarter.

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Topps warned that its half-year profits were set to come in "significantly" below the previous year, which will impact on its full-year results.

The retailer, with outlets in Norwich; at Mile Cross, Barker Street and Hall Road as well as in Yarmouth, Cromer, King's Lynn and Thetford, expects annual underlying pre-tax profits to be "materially" below market forecasts for between £13.5 million to £14.5 million.

The tiling chain is hoping for a pick up in the home improvement sector after recent positive house price surveys, though this is unlikely to come until later this year.

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Rob Parker, chief executive of Topps Tiles, said: "Trading conditions in our second quarter have remained challenging, reflecting continued weakness in home improvement spending."

He added: "While UK housing market indicators have shown an encouraging improvement in the period since the general election, these traditionally have a lagged impact on our trading and we would not expect to see any benefit from these until later into the second half - our performance during this period will be key to the outcome for the year as a whole."

Topps saw shares take a battering in November when it first revealed the extent of the pre-election impact on trade.

Analysts at Liberum slashed their full-year profit forecast for Topps by around 50% on the back of the latest earnings alert and said they did not expect any improvement in the second half.

"Housing transactions showed a marked step-up in January, but whether this becomes a trend is, as yet, unknown," they said.

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