Source - SMW
Homewares retailer Dunelm's like-for-like sales rose by 3.4% to £255.0m in the 13 weeks to 30 Dec. 

Total like-for-like sales for the 26 weeks to 30 Dec were up 6.0% at £469.3m.

Like-for-like sales in the group's stores rose by 1.1% in the 13 week period and by 3.5% in the 26 weeks while online like-for-like sales were up 30.5% in the 13-week period and 36.8% over 26 weeks.

The group said group gross margin percentage for the half year was 180bps lower than last year for two reasons:

 Firstly, the continued mix effect of the additional lower margin Worldstores sales reduced gross margin by 80bps. 

Secondly, the group continued to see the impact of its focus on newness in its ranges, which involved a planned higher participation of end of season and seasonal product lines. 

It said overall these mix impacts reduced gross margins by 100bps. 

Excluding these factors, core margins were in line with prior year and it expects some margin improvement in the second half. 

Dunelm opened five new stores in the quarter, including one relocation, bringing the total number of openings in the first half to a net nine openings, and its superstore footprint to 169 stores.   

Chairman  Andy Harrison said: 'After a good first quarter, it is pleasing to see our sales momentum maintained with total sales growth, and like-for-like sales growth, of 13.6% and 3.4% respectively in the second quarter. 

'This performance is driving our continued market share gains. We are now up to 169 superstores having successfully opened five in the quarter.

'Continuing rapid like-for-like online growth, of 36.8% in the first half, coupled with passing the first anniversary of the Worldstores acquisition, has helped our online sales grow to 16.0% of total sales in the first half (18.5% including Reserve and Collect). We are well on the way to becoming a genuine multi-channel retailer.

'Margins in our core Dunelm business have been maintained in the first half, although there has been a sales mix impact on margins from the Worldstores acquisition and the higher participation of seasonal and end of season products.

'Overall, we remain on track, with good sales growth and market share gains, offset by margin mix. We are well positioned to deliver good full year profit growth, after a small reduction in the first half, largely due to the consolidation of Worldstores losses.'