Carpetright plc has reported a challenging first half in its latest results, for the 26 weeks ended 29th October 2016.

In the UK, sales declined by 2.9% , reflecting "uneven consumer demand in an increasingly competitive market". Underlying operating profit came to £4.8m.

At the end of the first half, Carpetright had 49 UK stores trading under the new brand identity, delivering sales growth above comparable stores in the rest of the estate. The retailer says it plans to accelerate the programme to 150 stores by the end of the year – 50% more than the original target. A net six closures reduced the UK estate to 429.

Sales are benefiting from a focus on hard flooring – a category achieving double-digit growth – and stronger customer service satisfaction metrics.

The second half has started well, with LFL sales up 2.6% in the six weeks to 10th December.

Chief executive Wilf Walsh says: “We have had a challenging first half - the full impact of the UK decision to leave the EU remains unclear, consumer demand remains uneven, the market is extremely competitive and the impact of currency movements have combined to give us substantial trading headwinds. To address these challenges and revitalise the business, we have a programme of activities underway, but these will take time to deliver their full effect.

“The positive impact at the initial 49 refurbished stores has given us the confidence to accelerate this part of the programme. We are now scheduling investment to 150 stores by the year end – 50% more than the original target and representing over one third of our UK estate.

“As we enter the important January trading period, we remain comfortable with the range of market expectations."