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Topps Tiles sees website as store traffic driver

Topps Tiles said today that total revenue for the 26-week period to 29 March 2014 will be circa £97.5 million, representing an increase of 11.6% year on year, while like-for-like revenues will have grown by around 10%. 

In an interim trading update, prior to interim results being announced on 20 May 2014, the retailer also said that underlying profit before tax for the first half is expected to be circa £8 million, up £3.3 million year on year.

Matthew Williams, Topps Tiles CEO, said: "With the strong start we made to the year being sustained into the second quarter, we now expect a significantly improved profit performance year on year. 

"We are continuing to focus on our strategy of taking further market share and remain optimistic about prospects for the business."

At the end of the retailer's last financial year, Williams underlined how the company is following a multichannel strategy to drive sales and profit, but it is the business's 330-strong store estate that is seen as central to its approach to serving customers.

In a final results statement, released in November, Topps Tiles said that more than 99% of its customers visit a store at some stage in their purchase journey. However, it was acknowledged that online has been growing strongly in importance as a channel in recent years, with more than 70% of the retailer's customers using its website during the shopping process.

With less than 1% of Topps' customers using online as their only channel, though, the company started the current financial year operating with a view that the pure-play online market for tiles remains very small. As a result, the business believes a combination of its strong position in the online channel and the personal customer service it offers in its physical stores gives it an advantage over its online-only rivals.

Over the course of last year, Topps Tiles refreshed its website to provide more information about some of its new look stores, as well as launching a mobile site that enables customers to access the site from tablet and smartphone devices. With the launch of its 'Boutique' stores, it is clear that bricks and mortar retailing is still the major area of focus for the business.

Greg Bromley, retail consultant at industry analyst Conlumino, commented: "Topps Tiles cites its customer service and stock availability as major store drivers, with consumers looking to view samples of tiles before committing to a large purchase.

"The retailer still hopes to open new sites, but cites lack of suitable space as a current barrier to growth. Meanwhile, the retailer has worked to include elements of its refreshed stores online, improving photography to better showcase products and worked to improve usability."

And the business's strategy to improvements in-store and online are expected to bring success in the 12 months ahead, argued Bromley.

"With the chancellor [George Osborne] confirming the Help to Buy scheme is set to be extended to 2020 in last week's Budget, this should continue to stimulate the housing market, ultimately triggering more home-related purchases," he explained.

"We believe that these wider market trends, alongside the retailer's continued investment into improving its proposition, will likely prove fruitful for Topps Tiles in the coming months."

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