Robust performance in challenging market, says Headlam

Floorcoverings distributor Headlam Group has reported a decline in volumes within the UK market.

According to its latest trading update in respect of the eleven months of the year to 30 November 2023, Headlam expects full year results to be “broadly in line with expectations”, based on the trading patterns observed to date.

In a statement, Headlam said: “After a relatively robust summer trading period, the market in September and October was weaker than expected, reflecting the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on residential RMI as consumers cut back spending on home improvement projects. However, the Group’s November trading was improved, with a step up in average daily sales compared to October, albeit volumes and revenue remained below the previous year and typical seasonal uplifts.

“In the UK the revenue for the Period is slightly positive year-on-year, offset by revenue decline in Continental Europe, resulting in Group revenue being flat year-on-year for the first eleven months. In the UK, the Group saw a 5% volume decline year on year, although this is in line with the overall market according to data for the 12 months to October 2023.

“Despite the general market backdrop, revenue from Larger Customers and Trade Counters has remained strong, with year-to-date growth of 27% and 9% respectively; November itself was a record month for revenue from Larger Customers.

“Gross margin and costs remain well controlled and good progress has been made in the mitigating actions set out in our half year results announcement, including the successful implementation of dynamic route planning which brings efficiencies in transport costs. Operating cost inflation in H2 remains elevated, as seen in H1, but is expected to moderate next year.

“Building on the strong operating cash generation in H1, the Group has subsequently agreed a settlement with insurers for the Kidderminster building, which was destroyed by a fire in 2021. This has resulted in cash proceeds of £8.6m, already received. Stock levels continue to be well controlled and will show a reduction over the year.

“As previously reported, volume of sales in the UK market are around 20% lower than in 2019 on a rolling 12-month basis. Whilst there is uncertainty over the short-term outlook for the market, we remain optimistic about the medium-term prospects for both the market and our opportunities to grow market share.

“The Group’s strong cash generation, along with the positive medium-term prospects, enables us to continue to invest in broadening market presence and building capabilities, to position the business well as the market improves and volumes recover.”

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