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DFS first-half sales down by 6% amid ‘political and economic uncertainty’

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DFS says sales fell by 6% in the first half of its financial year amid a “challenging consumer environment”. But the retailer, ranked Top350 in IRUK Top500 research, said that it was now seeing conversions and sales lift both online and in stores. 

Footfall fell and sales were particularly subdued in August and September, the multichannel sofa to carpets retailer said today, in a trading update for the 26 weeks to December 29. But the retailer said that orders had picked up more recently, and that winter sale trading had started “satisfactorily”. It now expects full-year pre-tax profits to be “broadly in line with market expectations” of about £51.2m, as long as it can achieve low single digit sales growth. It expects to do so as a result both of the recent upturn in sales and as a result of opening a number of new showrooms in the first half of its year.

The retail group, which also owns Sofa Workshop, Sofology and Dwell, said in full-year results published in September that it had invested in improving the customer experience through the online research period and into its stores as shoppers test out sofas before buying. But at the time it warned of political and economic uncertainty – and today said that was still a factor.

“We are mindful of the broader political and economic uncertainty that still exists,” said DFS, in today’s statement. “However we have made good progress on our strategic initiatives, driving showroom conversion and online growth. Furthermore we have appropriate cost-saving actions in place to help mitigate continued market weakness.”

DFS said that the group had historically made the most of difficult trading environments to build its market position. “We continue to believe that our cash generation and long-term growth prospects will drive attractive returns for our shareholders,” it said. 

Image courtesy of DFS

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