SOFA specialist ScS yesterday warned that trading over the Easter weekend had been "very disappointing" and blamed the recent warm weather for a fall in sales.

With households staying away from the shops during the sunny spell, the North-East plc said the weather impact compounded what was already a difficult trading environment.

ScS, of Sunderland, said trading over the two May bank holiday weekends would be "key" to meeting its financial result for the ten months to the end of July.

The company has a shortened accounting period following a change in its reporting calendar.

Yesterday's trading update came as the company revealed that like-for-like sales during the 26 weeks to March 31 had fallen by nine per cent.

However, it said total sales had risen by 11 per cent and said that it was entering the May bank holiday period with confidence and a strong balance sheet and cash flow.

Chief executive David Knight said: ''We have to blame the weather. The retail parks were extremely quiet and if you look at the travel news it seems people spent the holiday travelling to the seaside.''

ScS saw its share price slump 18 per cent in February after it said that falling sales had been compounded by distribution problems. That led house broker KBC Peel Hunt to cut its profits forecast for the ten months to £9.7m, from £11.5m previously.

By midday yesterday, shares had fallen by almost 12 per cent to 350p. The share price closed at 356.5p.

ScS employs more than 300 people in the North-East across its stores and head office.

Yesterday, it said its store opening programme remained on track. It has already launched seven stores since October - including three in the region - an eighth is due to open in Luton today and a ninth is planned for the beginning of next month.

On Thursday, rival retailer Carpetright saw its shares plunge after it warned of falling sales, blaming January's interest rate rise and a drop in disposable household income for the slump.