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Topps Tiles profits on the up

Topps Tiles has posted its best half-year profits since the financial crisis as it benefits from the housing market recovery and market share gains.

The UK's largest tile specialist said its first-half pre-tax profit lifted to £8 million from £4.7 million a year ago - its best half year result since it announced a surplus of £17.6 million in 2008.

The Leicester-based business added that current trading in the first seven weeks of the second half of the year lifted 5.6%, having risen by 10.2% in the first six months.

Chief executive Matthew Williams said the firm enjoyed a strong six months amid a steady improvement in UK economic fortunes.

Mr Williams added: "Our first half sales growth was significantly ahead of the overall tile market. Our strategy continues to focus on market share gains."

Topps Tiles has the largest slice of the UK tile sector, with a 28.5% market share measured last September, which compares to 27% in 2012.

The business, which runs 330 stores, said it continues to make gains against its rivals who include DIY stores such as B&Q and Homebase.

The government's Help to Buy scheme has boosted the UK housing market, and was extended by four years to 2020 by Chancellor George Osborne in March. However, an increasing number of critics say the scheme has inflated the housing market in the South East.

The firm opened three smaller stores in London, called Topps Tiles Boutique, during the period and said early trading was "encouraging." The business said it expected to add two further test stores in the M25 area in the second half of the year.

Analysts expect the firm to report a full-year pre-tax profit in 2014 of £17.8 million.

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