Finance

CEO says UK’s biggest tile seller will weather new Covid rules


The boss of Britain’s biggest tile retailer believes the business will be able to weather further Covid restrictions following a record year of sales.

Topps Tiles chief executive Rob Parker told BusinessLive it had prospered through and beyond the most recent lockdowns, and saw no reason why that couldn’t continue.

The Leicestershire headquartered tile specialist recorded sales of £228 million in the year to October 2 – more than 18 per cent up on the previous year.

Pre-tax profits for the year jumped to £14.3 million, compared to a loss of almost £10 million the previous year.

Mr Parker said they were confident enough to be recommending a full year dividend to shareholders after holding off last year.

He said: “As we know the Government has asked us to bring in some new aspects to do with face coverings in shops, and we will be putting customer and staff safety at the forefront.

“We know the business can still trade so with respect to these things we are pretty well rehearsed in all this.”

Mr Parker said Topps was also working on a strategy of being net zero by 2030.

He said: “Most of our tiles are sourced from Europe, if you include Turkey, and a lot of our adhesives and grouts come from the UK.

“We will be working with manufacturers over time to increase the amount of recycled content in ranges – we have just launched an adhesive which is 50 per cent recycled – and ultimately we will be sourcing more products from closer to the UK.”

He said the recent growth was due to factors ranging from customers continuing to invest in their homes, to bringing out new ranges – including porcelain tiles that can stand the pressures of being put down outside – and new “value” ranges.

The business has closed a handful of stores in areas which it felt were already covered by other Topps Tiles shops, taking the number down to 313, and closer to a planned end figure of 300.

The chief executive said each store had around four staff and there had not been widespread redundancies, with some staff relocating. The total staff number for the business today is around 1,850.

Mr Parker said: “Our full year results demonstrate the strength of our position as the UK’s leading tile specialist and the potential of the business when it has been able to trade without restriction.

“Despite significant disruption for a three month period, during which our stores were unable to welcome homeowners, we delivered record revenues for the year and made good progress towards our ‘1 in 5 by 2025’ market share goal.

“We believe this performance underlines the strength of our strategy and the success of new initiatives including the expansion of our value ranges and the introduction of innovative new products.

“The successful development of our digital offer during the year has been particularly pleasing and we have plans in place to expand this further in 2022.

“Trading in the initial weeks of the new financial year has been robust with two-year retail like-for-like sales growth of 18.4 per cent.

“While trading headwinds are likely to continue over the short term, we are confident in our strategy and our ability to deliver sustainable long term growth.”

Shares in the business were down almost 4 per cent following the trading update.

Walid Koudmani, market analyst at financial brokerage XTB, said: “Topps tiles shared positive results today with the group achieving a record year of revenue while continuously increasing its market share in line with its 2025 objective.

“While it contends with reduced consumer confidence, global supply chain challenges and cost inflation, the company remains optimistic about overcoming those issues thanks to its flexibility and strength of its balance sheet which could further inspire investor confidence.”

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