Festive sales fall 9% at Argos

DECLINING sales of consumer electronic equipment over the festive period dragged seasonal sales at catalogue retailer Argos down by nearly 9%.

Sales for the 18 weeks to December 31 amounted to £1.72 billion (€2.05bn); down by 8.8% on the same period last year.

“The consumer electronics market, in particular video gaming and audio, remained weak and has continued to account for the majority of the reduction in Argos’ sales, although laptops and tablets remain strong performers,” said Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, which owns both Argos and DIY chain Homebase.

Mr Duddy added that the trading environment for the group remains both “volatile and demanding”, although he said Homebase’s sales have been more resilient. That said, that chain’s sales in the 18 weeks under review, fell by 2.6% year-on-year to £475 million (€568m).

“We will continue to plan cautiously, with an ongoing focus on managing robustly both the cost base and the cash position of the group, while prioritising our investment in the ongoing development of our multi-channel capabilities,” he added.

Home Retail Group said it has managed its business “tightly” over the peak trading period and expects pre-tax profits for its current financial year to come in around the mid-point of the current analyst expectation range of £78m -£125m.

The group doesn’t break down individual performance trends for its main brands in Ireland but a spokesperson for Argos here said yesterday the Irish business remains a key part of the overall group.

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