Retailers from Dixons Carphone to WH Smith reported this Christmas trading and other strategic updates this week. Here are some of our key findings.
New approaches are paying off
Dixons Carphone [IRDX RDXC], owner of brands including Currys [IRDX RCUR], a Leading retailer in IRUK Top500 research, PC World and Carphone Warehouse, both Top50 traders, reported an 8% boost to its third quarter sales in a Christmas trading statement out this week. One standout factor in the figure was not the 4% sterling growth in the UK and Ireland market, nor yet the 15% growth in the Nordics – but the 38% growth in its connected world services business. This division was created to benefit as digital services from homes and lives connected by Internet of Things technology increase. In the 10 weeks to January 7, it seems, interest in that sector emerged strongly.
The changing shape of Christmas shopping
Dixons Carphone reported its fifth consecutive Christmas of growth, sand said that Black Friday 2016 was its biggest yet. In the UK, Black Friday extended further across Cyber Week, while the Nordic market was “a little quieter than normal” during the period, even though customers there, said James, had taken Black Friday to their hearts. “As a result of our scale in all our markets,” said chief executive Seb James, “we were able to offer prices that were truly groundbreaking during both our Black Friday week and our annual Boxing Day week sales – while maintaining margins – and we believe that we have outperformed the market during the period.” It raised profit forecasts as a result.
James said work had already begun on planning Christmas 2017. “Generating a successful Christmas means starting planning in January, and the teams are already hard at work making sure that our next Christmas season will be even better,” he said. “I would like to thank my remarkable, hard-working and resilient colleagues for the time and effort that they have put in over this holiday period to achieve these results.”
Strong cross-channel performance
Multichannel retailer WH Smith, a Top50 trader in IRUK Top500 research, reported a 2% rise in group revenues in the 21 weeks to January 21, and a 1% rise in like-for-like sales – which strip out the effect of store openings and closures – over the period. Sales in its travel stores, in airports and stations, grew by 10% in total, and by 5% on a like-for-like basis. But high street sales fell by 4%, or 3% like-for-like.
Chief executive Stephen Clarke said the travel business had seen “good sales growth across all our key channels in the period. This was driven by ongoing investment in the business and continued growth in passenger numbers – particularly in our airport stores over the Christmas holiday period. In High Street, we saw another good performance with sales in line with expectations driven by our new seasonal stationery ranges and spoof humour books.”
In 2017 the retailer will celebrate the 225th anniversary of its first store opening, in 1792, and it says it is confident about its position for the year ahead despite “uncertainty in the broader economic environment”.