LEICESTERSHIRE: Topps Tiles expects that the housing market is returning to form and reported a 5.5% rise in like-for-like sales in the first 14 weeks of its financial year.

Barry Bester, Topps' co-founder, said overall sales rose 3.9% over the period in the wake of store closures.

He said: "Trading performance provides reassurance that consumer confidence is returning." But Topps remains cautious in the outlook for the economy and believes that 2010 may continue to present a challenging economic environment for consumers, he said.