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UK retailer Dunelm seeks to move on after Worldstores deal

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(Reuters) – British furniture retailer Dunelm Group Plc <DNLM.L> reported flat annual profits on Wednesday after taking an 8.9 million pound charge in its efforts to complete integration of loss-making internet business Worldstores.

Shares in the company gained 4 percent after it reported a 4.2 percent rise in like-for-like sales for the year, bouncing back from falls in the first half, and said it had now shut the Worldstores websites and moved all business to its Dunelm brand.

Dunelm has been struggling to stay competitive due to dwindling customer numbers at its more than 170 stores and the protracted integration of the Worldstores and Kiddicare brands, which it bought almost two years ago for 8.5 million pounds.

Chief Executive Nick Wilkinson said the company had now made a total cash outlay on the Worldstores acquisition of 30 million pounds, including goodwill payments to suppliers and trading losses.

Dunelm, which sells curtains, beds and other home furnishings, posted a pre-tax profit of 93.1 million pounds, for the year ended June 30, compared with 92.4 million pounds reported a year earlier.

Underlying pre-tax profit was 102 million pounds for the year ended June 30, down 7 percent year-on-year hit in part by a 8.4-million-pound trading loss related to integration of Worldstores which it bought two years ago.

“The UK retail environment remains challenging, but against this difficult background we have traded in line with expectations during the current financial year to date,” Wilkinson said.

“The acquisition of Worldstores … has accelerated the development of our multichannel capabilities, but the process of integrating Worldstores into Dunelm has been substantial and has reduced our focus.”

Dunelm also hiked its full-year dividend by 1.9 percent to 26.5 pence per share even as it said the UK retail environment remains challenging.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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