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Home Retail Group posts rise in full-year sales and profits
Argos digital store in Manchester

Home Retail Group has seen its full-year benchmark pre-tax profit rise by 27% to £115.4 million with both its Argos and Homebase chains achieving positive like-for-like sales throughout the year. Total sales rose by 3% to almost £5.7 billion.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Home Retail Group posts rise in full-year sales and profits

In the 52 weeks to 1 March 2014, Argos increased its like-for-like sales by 3.3% and grew its benchmark operating profit by 12% to £112.3 million. The retailer benefited from strong sales increases in products such as tablet computers, televisions, white goods and video game systems which offset small declines in sales of furniture, homewares and jewellery.

HRG said Argos’ multi-channel performance, particularly in mobile commerce, was a key factor in the growth. Online sales now represent 44% of total sales at Argos compared to 42% a year earlier. Within this, mobile commerce grew by 89% to reach 18% of total Argos sales.

Argos made a number of advances in its digital offer during the year including the introduction of 'My account', the launch of its first digital Christmas gift guide, and new tablet and smartphone apps.

In addition, Check & Reserve sales continued to grow and represented 32% of total Argos sales, with the remaining 12% of internet-led sales being fulfilled through home delivery.

In line with the transformation plan announced in October 2012, Argos also trialled six digital concept stores which feature tablet-based browsers to replace in-store catalogues and fast track product collection.

At the Hombase DIY chain like-like-sales sales grew by 5.9% with benchmark operating profit rising by 71% to £18.9 million. The retailer’s multi-channel sales grew by 53% in the period and now represent 7% of total sales.

HRG said Homebase was progressing with its renewal plan which includes new store format development, an enhanced multi-channel offer, and a strong portfolio of exclusive brands.

Commenting on the group's performance, HRG chief executive John Walden said: "The group has delivered a good performance in what remained a challenging market. Both retail businesses recorded positive like-for-like sales for all four reporting periods, resulting in 27% growth in group benchmark profit before tax. We also made good progress with our strategic plans in both businesses, which will become increasingly important in a competitive retail environment where shopping behaviours are changing rapidly."

HRG chairman John Coombe added: "I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Terry Duddy who, over the last 15 years, the last seven as chief executive of Home Retail Group, has contributed so much to the group. We wish Terry every success for the future. I would also like to welcome John Walden, who has been running Argos for the last two years, to the board as our new chief executive."

Nigel Blunt, Multi-Channel Store Transformation Manager at Home Retail Group will be taking part in a Panel Discussion at the Retail Bulletin's 5th Customer Loyalty Conference 10th June 2014.The panel will discuss:Understanding and engaging your customer across all channels. This is one of many highlights at the conference so make sure of your place now. Click here for the programme and registration.

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