Tablets work as Dixons get 8% boost

“Phenomenal” demand for tablet devices drove sales at the British and Irish operations of electronic goods seller, Dixons Retail, up by 8% during the company’s third quarter, which coincided with the busy Christmas trading period.

Over the course of the 12 weeks to the first week of January, the company — which operates the Currys, PC World and Dixons Travel chains — also saw strong 11% sales growth in its northern European division.

Management said the group’s full-year pre-tax profits are expected to be in line with market expectations of a £75m-£85m scale.

“In the year ahead, while we will manage our cost base cautiously, we see many opportunities to improve the overall performance of our group through further developments in our service offer for customers,” chief executive, Sebastian James said.

Elsewhere, Associated British Foods — the diversified multinational whose interests range from food processing and agri-business to grocery and retailing — has said first quarter group revenue (covering the three months to the first week of January) grew by 10%, on a year-on-year basis, heavily boosted by its retail division, which is headed up by the Dublin-headquartered clothing retailer, Primark.

Primark — which trades under the Penneys brand in Ireland — grew first quarter sales, year-on-year, by 25%. ABF said Primark’s better-than-anticipated sales increase was driven by “very strong like-for-like sales growth, a substantial increase in retail selling space and superior sales densities in larger new stores”.

The performance also benefited from a favourable comparison with weak sales during the unseasonably warm autumn of 2011, as well as good trading over Christmas.

Meanwhile, a third quarter update from Home Retail Group — owner of the Argos and Homebase chains — showed that Argos’ sales grew 1.6% year-on-year, to £1.744bn over the 18 weeks to Jan 5, while Homebase suffered a 4.5% sales decline to £453m.

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