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Topps Tiles warns of slack demand following UK election announcement

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By Reuters

(Reuters) – Topps Tiles <TPT.L> said on Tuesday sales in the first eight weeks of the current financial year fell, as Britain’s biggest tile retailer still grapples with economic and political uncertainty that has squashed consumer demand.

The property market has been impacted by Britons forgoing major renovations or purchasing new houses. Topps has previously pointed to the challenges, saying these would persist until there was more clarity.

“At the start of the new financial year, trading conditions have become more challenging, with consumer demand weakening further since the General Election was called in late October,” Chief Executive Matthew Williams said.

The company, which sells bathroom, wall and floor tiles from more than 350 stores in the UK, said the weakening demand was in line with its past experience.

Topps Tiles’ warning comes a day after an industry survey on Monday showed that British retailers saw a stronger-than-expected improvement in sales in November and are more upbeat about the month ahead, which includes the key Christmas season.

Peel Hunt analysts said they expect the company’s sales to bounce back post-election. “We feel there is potential for a more meaningful bounce back through pent up demand if we see a clear solution to the current political deadlock,” they said.

Retail like-for-like revenues fell by 7.2% in the first eight weeks of the new financial period after the company reported a 1.6% drop in pretax profit for the year ended Sept. 28.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)