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Dunelm aims to become No.1 in Housewares

The boss of Dunelm says the chain is on track to be number one in the UK homeware market.

Nick Wharton was speaking after the company yesterday reported a healthy rise in sales in the 13 weeks to July 2.

The Syston based group has increased its share of the market after outperforming the rest of the sector in overall sales in the past six months.

Dunelm is currently in third position, behind Argos owner Home Retail Group and John Lewis.

Mr Wharton, the company's chief executive, said: "Certainly in the next few years we expect to be market leader.

"We are confident about that. It really depends on the strength of our like-for-like compared with our competition – and we are doing better."

In the quarter to July 2 the group saw a 1.9 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, which only include stores open for at least a year.

Total sales for the year to July 2 were up by 9.3 per cent to £538.5 million. However, like-for-like sales fell by 0.6 per cent over the same period.

Mr Wharton said the chain was benefiting from stocking a broad range of products and prices.

"We have affluent customers who want to trade down slightly and people who want to trade themselves into a higher-value product," he said.

"We are encouraged by the performance over the full year, as well as the fourth quarter.

"We recognise that the consumer environment is challenging and what we can do is work very hard at the offers we put in front of customers. Our market share has shown that we are making a good job of that."

Mr Wharton said the group was expecting to open 13 stores over the next 18 months, taking the total to 125.

The company is due to move into a new head office in Watermead Business Park, Syston, in September.

The 55,000sq ft building, which will house 220 staff, will be about the twice the size of its current headquarters in nearby Fosse Way.

The group employs 6,500 people, including 120 at stores in Syston and Loughborough.

Professor Jim Saker, retail lecturer at Loughborough University, said: "Dunelm could become market leader, but you would expect its competitors to respond when the market starts to grow again."

Source : Leicester Mercury

08 July 2011
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