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Topps Tiles invests online to attract customers who research and buy across channels

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Topps Tiles said that an omnichannel approach to selling remains key for its customers, who research online and come into its stores. 

The retailer, ranked Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, launched a new omnichannel website at the start of October, and says that the digital experience and its social media presence both continue to grow in importance. But at the same time, it said, “almost all” of its customers visit its 362 retail stores. 

“Whilst we know that our website is very important for customers when they are starting their journey with us, we also know that our stores represent a vital part of their journey – with 90% of our customers visiting a store as part of their purchase,” said the retailer in its full-year strategic report. “As customers’ needs change, so too does the way we invest to attract them.|”

To that end, the retailer is spending more of its marketing budget online to bring shoppers to its website, and is also working with social media influencers to help build its Instagram presence. By the end of the year it had 37,000 Instagram followers, up from 16,000 a year earlier. At the same time its total social media impressions for the year rose by 96% to 12.7m – from 6.5m last time. 

Its investment also crosses channels. Staff can use a new in-store virtual tiler to design a 3D visualisation of a project in a way that is designed to complement Topps’ online tile visualiser. It has also opened in-store tile design advice areas.

More than half (56%) of its sales are made to tradespeople, and Topps said that 90,000 traders were now registered and earning points on its trade loyalty scheme. That’s up from 72,000 a year earlier. 

Group revenue of £219.2m in the year to September 28 was up by 1.1% on the previous year. But pre-tax profits of £12.5m were down by 1.6% on £12.7m a year earlier.

Topps Tiles chief executive Matthew Williams said: “This has been another year of strategic progress for Topps, with a resilient sales performance in our retail business and significant development in our commercial operations. In retail, our strategy of out-specialising the specialists enabled us to deliver like-for-like sales growth and further enhance our market-leading gross margins in tough market conditions.”

The retailer has also been developing a commercial arm via the acquisition of Parkside in order to increase the size of its potential market. 

Looking ahead, Williams said trading conditions had got harder since the general election was called. 

He said: “At the start of the new financial year, trading conditions have become more challenging, with consumer demand weakening further since the General Election was called in late October. Against this backdrop of heightened political and economic uncertainty, like-for-like sales in the first eight weeks have declined. Whilst we expect external events will continue to weigh on consumer confidence for the immediate future, we remain confidence 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.”

Matthew Williams is to step down as chief executive from November 29, when he will be succeeded by Rob Parker who is currently chief financial officer. 

Image: Screenshot of Media

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