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Sales in Topps Tiles fell 4 per cent during the first quarter of 2017, which the company blamed on the softening home-improvement market.

In a trading update for the 26 weeks to April 1, Topps said revenues fell 1.4 per cent to £107m, with like-for-like sales down 1.9 per cent. The fall in like-for-like sales was concentrated in the second half of the period.

The company said trading since the start of this year “reflected softer market conditions” but also said comparisons with a year earlier were difficult since there was heightened activity in the run up to stamp duty changes in April 2016.

Chief executive Matthew Williams said:

Market conditions over the second quarter have been tougher, but the business has responded well with tight control of costs. While we are taking a prudent view on the outlook for the balance of 2017, an improving trend over the second quarter provides some encouragement.

The company said it had cut operating expenditure and that “an improving trend across the second quarter” indicated that management’s expectations for full-year profits are in line with analyst forecasts.

Analysts at house broker Peel Hunt said:

We understand that stores in the South East are slightly underperforming other regions, reflecting both the pull forward in activity last year and the softening of the London market following the increase in stamp duty.

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