The start of Q1 for Topps was particularly strong, reporting 19.6% retail like-for-like growth in the first eight weeks of its financial year. The retailer held its appeal with both professional fitters and homeowners as consumers sought to improve their homes.
The introduction of Tier 4 in some areas of the UK on 19 December 2020 and now a new national lockdown in England, potentially lasting several weeks, will damage Topps’ sales. The retailer is not allowed to open its stores for browsing in England; customers can transact at the trade counter or buy online for delivery or click and collect. The tile specialist wisely offers free cut samples that are delivered at no cost; this will encourage purchases while stores are closed for browsing.
Topps’ Commercial business will continue to flounder due to the pandemic and this will likely last until a degree of normality resumes. But the retailer’s balance sheet is more positive now than it was during the first lockdown, with no debt and net cash of £28.5m. With consumers remaining at home for the foreseeable future, heightened demand for home improvement is likely to endure. Topps is also classed as an ‘essential retailer’ in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and its stores remain open in these areas.