Topps Tiles today unveiled an 11% rise in first-half pre-tax profits thanks to a strategy of multichannel convenience and a focus on customer service.
The tile retailer said its strategy of offering the customer a wide but focused range of tiles, in the most convenient way was working well for it, as it reported revenue of £108m in the 26 weeks to April 2, 3.8% up on the £104m reported in the same period last year - or 4.7% up on a like-for-like basis. Pre-tax profits of £10.1m were 11% up on last time.
Convenience for its customer, it said, meant Topps "delivering a seamlessly integrated shopping experience across all available channels – stores, online, mobile, telephone, and also the important integration with their tile fitter."
Some 99% of customers visit one of Topps' 342 stores at some point in their shopping journey, while 75% visit its website, and 50% do that before visiting a store.
In 2016, Topps is developing its Boutique store format, with 13 stores now trading and two more set to open in the second half. The company points to evidence that these stores play an important role in encouraging customers to look again at Topps as a brand. "There is increasing evidence," said Topps today, "that customers who use Boutique stores to initially research their projects may ultimately go on to buy either through their local core format store or online if that is more convenient for them."
Topps' lab store incorporates its latest thinking both on layout and merchandising, with the most successful elements taken into existing stores. Third-party stands, for example, have now been replaced with inspirational wall displays across the store estate.
Topps says that it is focused on making the customer experience both online and in-store as "inspirational and seamless as possible". To that end it has focused on improving search, optimising conversion rates and increasing average transaction value. Online visitor numbers in the first half of the year were up by 9% on the same time last year. Last year the company relaunched its online tile visualiser (picutred), and the retailer is also focusing on creating a "compelling and inspirational digital experience" online.
Chief executive Matthew Williams said: "Topps has delivered a robust first half performance as our successful strategy of 'out-specialising the specialists' continues to generate profitable sales growth. Like-for-like sales grew by 4.7% in the period as initiatives to upgrade and rebrand our stores led more customers to reappraise the Topps brand and shop with us for the first time. Further improvements are in development and will be rolled-out in the remainder of the year and beyond.
"The group has made a strong start to the second half, with like-for-like sales growth of 8.4%5 in the first seven weeks of the period. We are confident our plans to extend the appeal of the Topps brand have significant further potential and are excited about the opportunities ahead."