Topps upbeat as sales surge

More signs of the recovery in household spending emerged today after Topps Tiles reported a big rise in sales and homewares specialist Dunelm rebounded from a difficult summer.

More signs of the recovery in household spending emerged today after Topps Tiles reported a big rise in sales and homewares specialist Dunelm rebounded from a difficult summer.

Topps said a strong December helped like-for-like sales rise 9.3% in the 13 weeks to the end of the year, while Dunelm lifted sales by 2.9% over the same period after a fall of 5.3% in the heatwave summer.

Analysts believe Topps is well placed to benefit from a stronger housing market though the company said it remained cautious about whether it can maintain the level of performance over the year.

Its first quarter figures come against flat sales in the previous quarter, and compare with a 1.6% rise in the same period a year before.

Chief executive Matthew Williams said: "Topps traded strongly over the first quarter, with an acceleration in like-for-like sales growth over the final month of the period.

"Whilst we are encouraged by this and remain optimistic about the prospects for 2014, at this early stage of the year we remain cautious of projecting forward this level of performance."

The Leicester-based group trades from 328 stores. Analysts at N+1 Singer said: "Topps should benefit from an improving housing market."

Dunelm suffered after a poor summer period when sales dropped 5.3% on a like-for-like basis.

A first-ever TV advertising campaign helped second quarter trading, the group said, while the opening of a new delivery centre helped internet business to progress. But sales were still 0.9% down over the half.

Chief executive Nick Wharton said: "Dunelm traded robustly during this key period with our trusted 'every day low price' positioning retaining a strong appeal for customers."

He said the board remained confident in long-term growth in profits. Half-year total sales were £356.3 million and pre-tax profits for the first half of the year are expected to be £61.5 million.

The Leicestershire-based group, founded as a market stall selling curtains in 1979, now has 131 superstores and aims to increase the number to 200.