United Carpets rolls out improved half-year profit



LONDON (ShareCast) - - Improved half-year profit
- Revenue slips, gross margins improve
- Confident for future opportunities in a challenging market

United Carpets (LSE: UCG.L - news) reported improved half-year profit and said while it does not anticipate an upsurge in consumer spending in the short term, it does hopes to gain market share.

The group said pre-tax the six months to end-September rose to £452,000 from £113,000 the same time a year earlier. Operating profit increased to £452,000 from £110,000 previously. Revenue however fell to £10.3m from £11.3m while network sales fell to £28m from £34.9m in the previous year.

In October the group warned falling sales meant full-year profits would be significantly below its previous expectations as it announced the departure of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Darren Shapland.

Like-for-like (LFL) sales in the interim period decreased by 1.6% but LFL sales since the period end to December 12th rose 2.4% as it benefited from its "smaller, more robust platform."

CEO Paul Eyre said: "These results should give shareholders increasing confidence in the future of the business. The restructuring programme, begun last year and continued into this year, has reduced the number of stores to 60, down from a peak of 86 stores, removing those which were no longer viable. As a result the business is in a much better position with which to operate successfully in what continues to be a challenging market."

Chairman Lord Harris of Peckham added: "Whilst there has been some encouraging signs of an improvement in the economy, this does not yet appear to have materialised in consumers feeling better off.

"We are therefore not anticipating an upsurge in consumer spending in the short term; instead we hope to gain market share from a continued focus on customer service and providing genuine value for money offers on good quality products."

Gross margin improved from 62.7% in the six months ended March 31st to 62.8% in the period under review. Cash and cash equivalents rose to £1.4m from £0.8m in 2012.

CJ (KSE: 001045.KS - news)