Argos reports first sales rise for five years

Press release   •   May 01, 2013 11:37 BST

Argos has reported a rise in underlying sales for the first time in five years, its owner Home Retail Group has said.

A digital push at the high street business helped Argos deliver a 6 per cent increase in underlying operating profits to £100.3 million - in sharp contrast to the near 60 per cent plunge the previous year.

Online and mobile sales accounted for more than half of all revenues at the 737-strong chain during the year to 2 March, helped by its click and collect service, while the group said it was on track to launch the first full digital catalogue before Christmas.

Home Retail Group said Argos was also helped by sales growth in a number of categories, most notably in consumer electronics where demand for tablet computers has been strong.

Analysts also said that sales had been helped by the demise of competitors such as Comet in the last year.

Argos said its "Aliens" TV advertising campaign continues to be "well received" by customers, achieving high recall scores in analysis following its Christmas trading period.

However, parent firm Home Retail Group saw overall underlying pre-tax profits drop 10 per cent to £91m after a tougher year at its Homebase DIY chain, which suffered a 52 per cent tumble in earnings to £11m.

The group pledged to continue investing in its transformation plan at Argos and Homebase recovery efforts despite expectations for another challenging year for retailers.

The retailer is trying to reposition Argos for the internet age by making it easier and quicker to order goods online and collect them at its stores, while also making it less reliant on printed catalogues.

Home Retail Group chief executive Terry Duddy said: "Our strong financial position enables Argos to deliver on its transformation plan to become a digital retail leader."

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