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Topps Tiles and Card Factory cite general election uncertainty as they report Christmas figures; plus Naked Wines update

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Topps Tiles points to falling footfall amid ‘heightened’ uncertainty

Topps Tiles says its like-for-like retail sales fell by more than five per cent in the first quarter of its year, thanks to “heightened political and economic uncertainty”. 

Like-for-like sales were down by 5.4% in the 13 weeks to December 28 – including a 7.2% dip in the first eight weeks of the quarter alone. 

Topps Tiles chief executive Rob Parker said: “Our first quarter performance reflects the full impact of the heightened political and economic uncertainty evident in the run up to December’s General Election, which we first noted in our 2019 full year results announcement.  Trading conditions remained challenging throughout the period and, against this backdrop, we ensured that we continued to offer our customers excellent value for money.  As expected, the retail like-for-like sales decline began to return to its pre-election trend towards the end of the quarter. 

“As we enter 2020, we remain confident that our market-leading retail offer and growing commercial operations give us a strong platform from which to deliver sustainable growth over the medium and long term.”

The retailer said its customer satisfaction scores continued to improve however, with 88% of customers “highly satisfied” during the quarter. It closed the quarter with 361 stores, following one closure and one relocation. 

Topps Tiles is a Top100 retailer in IRUK Top500 research.

Card Factory blames general election for falling footfall

Card Factory said the general election and “weak consumer sentiment” led to falling footfall in a challenging Christmas trading period in the 11 months to December 31 2019. Online sales increased by 14.8%, helping to maintain  growth in group revenue at 3.6%. But like-for-like sales were down by 0.6%. 

Online growth, said Card Factory, came as more customers got to know its website, and as it expanded its gift and party ranges. It now expects online sales to continue to grow in full year 2021 as the launch of a new platform will enable click and collect and in-store ordering.

Over the 11 months, the retailer opened 47 new stores, taking its total estate to 1,019. It also continued to expand agreements to supply third-party retailers including Aldi, Matalan and The Reject Store in Australia.

Karen Hubbard, Card Factory’s chief executive officer, said: “The Christmas trading period continued to be challenging given the general election and weak consumer confidence, the impact of which can be seen in the footfall decline experienced in the period. Our investment in our customer experience, operational efficiency and data to improve our ranges has helped us to mitigate some of the effects of the tougher retail environment and higher costs experienced in the year. We plan to invest further in the business, enhancing our ability to operate more efficiently, service new sales channels and increase our competitive advantage, enabling a return to profit growth after the next financial year.”

Card Factory is a Top500 retailer in IRUK Top500 research.

New brooms take over at Naked Wines 

New brooms are in charge at Naked Wines as it becomes a fully online business, following the sale of the Majestic businesses. Chief executive Rowan Gormley retires today, replaced by Nick Devlin, while chairman Greg Hodder is replaced by John Walden, previously of Argos.

The move came as Naked posted  underlying revenue 11% up in the 10 weeks to December 31. Gross margins were up by 1pp, following more repeat customer sales. 

Group chief executive Nick Devlin said: “The team have worked hard over the Christmas period and delivered a good performance. With the important Christmas season behind us, we are now acutely focused on executing our plans and achieving our huge growth potential.

“Rowan leaves the business in great shape. We have the internal capability, clarity of purpose and financial resources to push ahead with our growth plans and deliver value for customers and shareholders alike.”

Naked Wines sells in three markets, the UK, Australia and the US, and works with more than 200 independent winemakers from 17 countries. It is a Top500 retailer in IRUK Top500 research.

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