Xtra-Vision expects to retain profitability

IRISH-OWNED home entertainment retailer Xtra-Vision has said it expects to retain profitability in its current year and is hopeful of expanding its store network next year.

Speaking at what was effectively a trading update for the company — now owned by Birchhall Investments Ltd (basically a joint venture between Pageant Holdings and NCB Ventures) — Xtra-Vision’s chairman/chief executive, Peter O’Grady-Walshe said yesterday that the current year has seen “the toughest trading conditions the group has ever witnessed”.

Despite this, Xtra-Vision’s sales are traditionally biased towards the end of the calendar year. The company’s financial year runs until the first week of January. Last year, Birchhall made a pre-tax profit of €155,000 and expects to show a profit again in the current year.

Mr O’Grady-Walshe said that Xtra-Vision will be looking — over the medium to long term — to grow through a greater range of entertainment product offerings; an online digital delivery/movie download platform, when economically viable; and a “click-and-collect” sales model, along the lines of what catalogue retailer Argos currently practices.

Xtra-Vision’s sales profile is made up of 68% retail/sale of games software, hardware and electronics and 32% rental of movies and games.

The company is also looking at opening around 10 new stores in the coming year and hopes to move 30 existing stores to new locations. Xtra-Vision currently operates 185 stores on the island of Ireland, 140 of those being in the Republic.

While possible, it is unlikely that the company will acquire any of the stores recently vacated by rival operator, Chartbusters, after going into liquidation, as most of those stores were located close to Xtra-Vision outlets.

Founded here in the late 1970s, Xtra-Vision was acquired by US video retailer Blockbuster in the mid-1990s before being bought by its existing owners later in the decade.

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