Carpet stores warning

A CARPET shop chain says stores could be closed after seeing a huge slide in profits.

Carpetright, which has a store at Highpoint Retail Park, in Hartlepool, has reported a 70 per cent fall in full-year profits and warned it will close more stores in an effort to weather the consumer downturn.

The floor coverings specialist said profits reduced to £6.6m in the year to April 30 after householders were put off making major purchases and also found it harder to obtain mortgages in order to move home.

Sales in the UK and Ireland fell nearly five per cent to £404.5m in the year.

The group finished the period with 559 stores in the UK and Ireland, after closing 27, and said that with leases on 94 stores due to expire in the next five years, it expected to further reduce the size of its estate.

No details have been revealed on what stores could close.

Lord Harris, Carpetright’s chairman and chief executive and a veteran of the retail sector with more than 50 years’ experience, described trading conditions as “very challenging”.

The company said the review of its store estate would reflect the trend for consumers to conduct research online before making their purchase.

It added: “The upshot of this change is that customers appear to be prepared to travel further to make a single physical store visit to complete their purchase.

“We believe that this trend is resulting in a fundamental shift in the required geographical density of our UK store estate.”