Wednesday, August 2, 2017

News: United Carpets posts results at a time of "increasing economic uncertainty"


Rotherham-based United Carpets Group plc, the third largest chain of specialist retail carpet and floor covering stores in the UK, has posted what it describes as a "creditable result against a backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty."

The Bramley-based, AIM-listed company has restructured in recent years following a pre-pack administration deal in 2012.

The group uses a franchise model and reported that revenue was £21.2m for its financial year ended March 31 2017, slightly down from the £21.4m in the previous year. Profit before tax was £1.5m, similar to the £1.49m reported a year previous.

During the period, two franchised stores and two corporate stores were closed and two franchised stores and a corporate store were re-located within the same town. As a result, at the end of the financial year, the group had 57 stores of which 50 were franchised and seven were corporate.

The closures are part of a focus on stores which meet or exceed performance criteria and the plc has not ruled out opening more stores "where it can establish a profitable long-term presence."

Like for like sales across the whole of the network (based on stores that have traded throughout both the period under review and the corresponding period in the prior year and thus excluding stores that closed during either period) were up 1.3%. United Carpets said that this "was a pleasing result against strong comparatives in the prior year and during what is considered to be a tough trading environment."


Paul Eyre, chief executive at United Carpets, said: "These results show a modest improvement on the prior year together with a positive like for like performance up 1.3%. This is a creditable result against a backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty which has tended to damage consumer confidence. We have been helped by the resilience of our franchise model together with the strength of our core customer offering of providing great quality products at attractive price points."

Peter Cowgill, chairman of United Carpets, said: "Given the wider environment, this has been a good year for United Carpets. Political and economic changes have affected consumer confidence and this has resulted in a more challenging retail environment so a modest improvement in profit before tax represents sound progress.

"It remains difficult to predict the full impact that Brexit and other political developments might have on the UK, however a prolonged period of significant uncertainty has meant that the mood of the UK consumer has fluctuated throughout the past year. It appears probable that this state of flux is unlikely to stabilise in the near term as we go through the Brexit process and therefore we expect the challenging market conditions to remain prevalent over the coming year.

"Despite some recent weakening, the UK housing market continues to function reasonably positively and this alongside the Group's debt free, stable financial base and strong market positioning makes the Group, in the Board's opinion, well positioned going forward."

The Rotherham branch of United Carpets is sponsoring the Wickersley Youth Junior Football team for the upcoming 2017/18 season. Jason Swift, branch manager, said: "We know how important it is to support local teams and encourage youngsters to get out and about and active in this manner. Our sponsorship package includes branded tracksuits and kit bags; all vital equipment for the team so we're delighted to be a part of it.

"Opportunities like this are one of the best parts of working with a locally run business like United Carpets & Beds, we can get involved in activity like this and make a real difference in the community."

United Carpets website

Images: United Carpets


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