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Dunelm upbeat on profit as UK stores set to reopen next week

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FILE PHOTO: A view shows a Dunelm store in St Albans
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(Reuters) -British homeware retailer Dunelm Group on Thursday forecast annual profit ahead of analysts' expectations, as it gears up to reopen its stores next week following an easing in coronavirus-led restrictions in England.

The company, which sells furnishings ranging from cushions and bedding to kitchen equipment, also reported a 16.8% fall in revenue to 236.6 million pounds ($325 million) for the 13 weeks ended March 27, 2021.

Spending on home improvement activities such as DIY (do it yourself) and furnishings has risen during the COVID-19-driven lockdowns as many people saved money and spent more on improving their surroundings while being stuck at home.

By the beginning of January 2021, all of Dunelm's 174 stores — which are mainly at out-of-town locations — were closed. However, the company said that its online sales made up more than 90% of sales in the third quarter.

With restrictions easing in the UK, Dunelm said it re-opened 13 stores in Scotland earlier this week, and now expects 156 stores in England and Wales to re-open on April 12.

"With all stores soon to be fully open, combined with our ... digital offering, we look forward to helping our customers to create a little more joy in their homes and gardens this summer," Chief Executive Officer Nick Wilkinson said.

Analysts on average expect annual pre-tax profit between 120 million pounds and 125 million pounds, according to a company-compiled estimate.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)