Like other retailers, Topps Tiles is facing a marketplace that continues to be challenging. With this in mind, it believes its strategy of providing the best possible customer service by “Out-specialising the specialists” is more important than ever. According to its latest trading update, for the 52-week period ending 30 September 2017, revenues were expected to be around £211.6m, compared to £215m for the previous year, a like-for-like drop of 2.9%. This compared to an increase of 4.2% the previous year. The retailer now trades from 372 stores, having opened a net five stores in the final quarter.
Despite the fall in profits and the likelihood of a continued tough market going forwards, chief executive Matthew Williams was upbeat. “It has been an important development year for the group,” he said. “Significant strategic progress has been made and we remain excited by the growth opportunities open to us. We remain focused on our strategy of ‘out-specialising the specialists’ and are beginning to gain traction with a number of new initiatives.”
Inspiring customers through the online and store shopping experience remains at the heart of the company’s strategy, and was one of the key message’s of last year’s annual report. According to the trading update, the company’s customer service ratings have been at level records during the past year. It also noted that its online visualiser – which allows customers to see what tiles will look like in various room settings, and which has been upgraded during the year – continues to build strong customer engagement. This year has also seen the retailer complete business-wide service training for its store managers.
IRUK’s latest research ranked Topps highly in its list of Top25 retailers in The Customer Performance Dimension. The ranking takes account of measurements that include speed of website loading, ease of navigation, availability of ratings and reviews, ease of returns, quality of customer service, and number of channels through which it is available. It found that among the Top 500 retailers covered, Topps Tiles had by far the quickest response to an emailed customer query, replying in just three minutes, compared to a median response of 12 hours. Other customer service initiatives at the retailer include all stores being mystery-shopped once a month; interest free credit over 12, 24 or 36 months for retail customers; an introduction service to match customers to trusted fitters in their area; a digital brochure tailored to preferences and taste; and an improved loyalty scheme for trade customers.