Britain's largest tile retailer Topps Tiles said it was trying to attract more affluent customers as it battled to stimulate trade at a time when redecorating has become low priority for hard-up householders.

Chief Executive Matthew Williams said straitened times had encouraged the firm, which trades from 321 UK stores, to improve the communication of the breadth of its range.

We've got a really broad range of products in Topps and we're communicating that far more effectively now, especially around the top end of our range, and attracting a more affluent customer, he told Reuters on Tuesday.

He was speaking after Topps posted a 15 percent fall in year profit and weak recent trading, sending its shares initially down 4.4 percent.

The firm, which issued a profit warning in August, said on Tuesday it made an underlying pretax profit of 13.9 million pounds in the year to October 1.

That compares with analysts' average forecast of 13.4 million pounds and 16.3 million pounds in the 2009-10 year.

Total revenue fell 4 percent to 175.5 million pounds, although gross margin did edge up 0.9 percentage points to 59.6 percent, thanks to improved sourcing of products.

Sales at stores open over a year fell 2 percent, after a 9.5 percent slump in its fourth quarter, and were down 6.9 percent in the first seven weeks of the new financial year.

Williams estimated the overall UK tile market fell 7 percent over the year as Britons cut back on discretionary spending.

Topps, which has an average customer project spend of 350-400 pounds, raised its market share 1 percentage point to 26 percent.

Britons have been feeling the pinch as disposable incomes are squeezed by rising prices, muted wage growth and government austerity measures, and as they worry about a stagnant housing market, job security, a fragile economic recovery and the euro zone debt crisis.

Looking ahead, we expect economic conditions will remain difficult in 2012, with consumer budgets again under pressure, said Williams.

Finance Director Rob Parker said the firm hoped to offset inflationary pressures in the current year with cost savings of 1.5-2.0 million pounds.

Shares in Topps Tiles, which have lost 62 percent of their value over the last year, were flat at 23 pence at 1012 GMT, valuing the business at about 41 million pounds.

We retain our cautious stance on Topps given our belief that consumer spending could come under further pressure and that they face increased competition from the DIY sheds in this cycle, especially (Kingfisher's ) B&Q, said analysts at Singer Capital Markets, who are forecasting a 2011-12 pretax profit of 10 million pounds.

The firm is paying a total dividend of 1.1 pence, up from 1.0 pence.

(Editing by Mark Potter and Mike Nesbit)