Catalogue chain Argos scraped a half-year profit of just £3.4 million today after consumers put off buying “big ticket” electronics items.
With sales down 9% on a like-for-like basis in the 26 weeks to August 27, Argos owner Home Retail Group said the chain’s profits slumped from £54.4 million a year earlier as margins were also hammered by discounting.
Chief executive Terry Duddy added the company had not seen the sales improvement it had expected as it gears up for the Christmas season.
It hopes to offset some of the turmoil in the UK, where it has 750 stores, by setting up a joint venture to launch Argos in China.
Home Retail Group’s bottom-line pre-tax profits slumped 70% to £28 million, as its homewares chain Homebase was also hit by a squeeze on its sales and margins.