Homeswares furnishings retailer Dunelm struck a cautious tone on the months ahead owing to 'market and customer uncertainty' even as sales and margins grew in the fiscal-first quarter. For the 13 weeks to 29 September, Like-for-like sales rose 4.2% to £228.1m on the back of its strong online growth. Total group sales rose just 0.1% to £248.2m from a year earlier. The rise in sales comes as margins improved by 130 basis points, compared with the first quarter last year, after the company eliminated lower margin sales from its Worldstores businesses, transferring the lower-margin goods to Dunelm.com. This led to a 50 basis points improvement in Dunelm's gross margin, the company said. The company opened one new store during the period, taking its total number of stores to 169. The company said it remained on track to launch a new Dunelm.com web platform in the third quarter, though remained cautious on growth amid market and customer uncertainty. 'Whilst we are cautious about the months ahead due to the level of market and customer uncertainty, I see plenty of opportunity over the medium term as we continue our journey to become the leading multichannel retailer in our sector, helping our customers create homes they love,' said Nick Wilkinson, Chief Executive Officer.
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