Topps Tiles courts trade customers as DIY trend flags
TOPPS Tiles has hailed progress in its commercial arm as it looks to sell more products to businesses and trade customers to make up for retail shoppers turning their backs on DIY.
The retailer yesterday reported a 1.4pc fall in its first-quarter like-for-like sales compared with the year before, but said that it expects its Parkside division to become profitable by 2020.
Parkside, which it bought in 2017, supplies businesses such as restaurants and hair salons with tiles. It made a loss of £1.1m in the year to Sept 29. It expanded its sales team during the last year and plans to open two new showrooms in the second quarter.
Matthew Williams, chief executive, said: “Traditionally we are in the retail market but we are excited by the opportunity of the commercial division.
“The division involves different types of customers, different architects and often much larger-scale projects.”
Topps is also expanding its digital services, including online “room visualisers” to entice customers to research products before coming into stores. “People start their shopping journey online, especially at the research phase, but our stores are highly valued by our customers,” said Mr Williams.
“What we are seeing in store, as a result, are more committed customers.”
Mr Williams said while conditions “remained challenging” due to weak consumer sentiment, it was “outperforming the market”. It opened one store and closed two in the first quarter, ending Dec 29, taking its total to 367.
The company is sometimes seen as a barometer for the economy due to its exposure to the housing market, offering a yardstick of consumers’ willingness to spend on big-ticket items.
Shares in Topps closed up 3.1pc at 65.7p yesterday.
John Stevenson, of Peel Hunt, said: “Uncertainty aside, Topps is outperforming in a tough tile market and the commercial division continues to make strong progress. Topps remains the domestic tile market leader and continues to win share [while] the acquisition of Parkside provides an entry point in the commercial market.”