MARKET REPORT: Home improvement boom boosts Dunelm

Sales surged in Dunelm as shoppers flocked back to its brick and mortar stores as Covid restrictions eased in the spring.

Customers stocked up on pillows and bed linen as the retailer brought in £380 million in sales in the 13 weeks to 26 June.

This was double the same period last year when Britain’s first and strictest lockdown took place.

Rising sales: Shoppers flocked to Dunelm’s brick and mortar stores as Covid restrictions eased in spring

And it was 44 percent higher than in 2019, which many consider a better comparator. Over 12 months, Dunelm’s turnover has increased by a quarter to over £1.3 billion.

As a result, the group has raised its profit expectations, telling the city it expects to make £158 million – ahead of the forecasts of £149 million to £153 million. The boom is likely to continue to come, Dunelm added, as consumers “improve and refresh their homes.”

Keith Bowman, analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “A vibrant housing market and more time at home due to the Covid crisis are likely to help him.”

Despite the good news, Dunelm fell 6.3 percent or 90p to 1349p. Bowman objected that a “more than doubling in share price since the pandemic market lows in March 2020 has already priced in much of the good news.”

Stock Watch – Be Open

Medicines service provider Open Orphan made a profit after it reported a double dose of good news.

The Dutch branch of the AIM-listed group, Breda, has won a £765,000 contract to assist an undisclosed existing client with clinical trials.

And the UK government has expanded a Covid study that Open Orphan is working on – alongside the Vaccine Taskforce, Imperial College London and the Royal Free London Hospital – that will recruit around 20 volunteers.

Open Orphan did not say how much more it would earn from the extension. Shares rose 3 percent or 0.75 pence to 26 pence.

But others may have clocked the warning that it sees some disruption and pressure in its supply chain – presumably referring to the shortage of shipping containers worldwide that is making it harder for companies to get products delivered.

After the market closed, B&Q owner Kingfisher also revealed that it still benefits from the extra love and attention people put into refurbishing their homes.

Brits’ newfound enthusiasm for DIY since Covid hit and the house-buying rush prompted Kingfisher (down 1.4 percent, or 5.2p, to 362.3p) to raise its advice.

It now expects first half sales to be about 22 percent higher – previously it said it would be in the teens – and profits will climb to £660 million, a sharp increase from forecasts of up to £600 million.

Housebuilder Barratt Developments also chimed in, telling shareholders it would make more than £800m in annual profits as home sales have exploded in the rush to get deals across the line before the stamp duty holiday ends.

Barratt rose 2 percent, or 14.2p, to 711p, but the broader market was gloomier.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent, or 33.53 points, to 7091.19, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.8 percent, or 176.77 points, to 22,750.04, as both were swept up by travel stocks.

The price of oil soared above $76 a barrel as it emerged that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were close to resolving a dispute that jeopardized the future of a production deal between the entire Opec+ cartel.

The countries are about to strike a deal that will set how much member states can gradually increase their oil production.

Brent oil traded at $76.18 a barrel, while Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.6 percent or 8.4 pence to 1,409 pence and BP fell 0.4 percent or 1.15 pence to 304.75 pence.

However, the blighted energy group Tullow Oil bucked the trend, rising 1.8 percent, or 0.94p, to 52.16p after “excellent” first-half progress.

Elsewhere, the David Beckham-backed Guild Esports fell 8.8 percent, or 0.71p, to 7.35p after boss Carleton Curtis made the “personal decision” to step down.

As executive chairman, Carleton had navigated his stock listing last October.

The esports company is setting up its own teams to compete in online video game tournaments, where they play FIFA and Fortnite. Board Director Derek Lew is serving as Non-Executive Chairman.

On AIM, non-bank lender Lendinvest had a stellar first day trading, ending at 197.5 pence after going public at 186 pence per share.

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