Carpetright profits down, but customer focus set to reverse the trend

Carpetright has set out how it is making the customer experience more convenient across sales channels as it looks to cater for the needs of shoppers who want to research online before visiting a store to see the product for themselves.

The update came as Carpetright reported revenue of £222.3 million in the 26 weeks to October 29, 3.8 per cent down on the same time last year. Pre-tax profits of £4.1 million were 42.3 per cent down on the £7.1 million reported last time.

The retailer said this reflected a 6.4 per cent decline in UK sales, and headwinds that included an “extremely competitive” market, currency movements, and uncertainty about what the UK’s decision to leave the EU would mean in the long term. However, it said, it was confident that its strategy, based on customer research and tested in store, would deliver “significant benefits” in the medium and longer-term.

The flooring-to-beds retailer said in its half-year review that multichannel convenience was a key part of its strategy. Chief executive Wilf Walsh said: “We have to make it easy for our customers who place a high value on convenience and speed. This all combines to make buying floor coverings a hassle-free end-to-end experience from researching online to the moment the fitter presents the finished product, and at every point in between.”

Improvements to that experience made during the first half of the year included the introduction of a Carpetright visualiser, which enables customers to upload photos of their room to see how different products would look in them, a new decorating tips and trends blog from interior stylist Diana Civil, and practical videos on subjects including choosing products, measuring a room and removing stains. Shoppers can now book a home visit online, and pay for products online using interest-free credit.

Carpetright also explained how it was investing to make customer service a point of competitive advantage. That included adopting a new ‘Do we measure up?’ web-based customer service programme that enables shoppers to leave reviews and feedback on their shopping experience.

Walsh said: “We have made an encouraging start to the second half with a return to like-for-like sales growth in both businesses. As we enter the important January trading period, we remain comfortable with the range of market expectations. Looking longer term, we are confident that our plan to build on Carpetright’s strong foundations, to modernise the business and to ensure we capitalise as market leader to the full is still on track.”