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Argos and Mulberry report on their multichannel progress

What Sainsbury's and Morrisons said about multichannel this week

IRUK 500-listed companies Argos , and Mulberry brought investors up-to-date with their digital progress as they unveiled their latest figures today.

Argos parent company Home Retail Group said internet sales at the general merchandise retailer, an Elite company in Internet Retailing’s IRUK 500 research, represented 44% of total Argos sales of £846m in the first quarter of its financial year, the 13 weeks to May 30. Mobile sales alone accounted for 25% of all Argos sales, up from 21% at the same time last year. M-commerce, said the company, had grown by 15% on last year. But overall sales were 2.6% down on the same time last year, while like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of store openings and closures, fell by 3.9%. New space – 33 new stores included two digital-format stores in branches of Sainsbury’s – contributed a net 1.3% sales growth, but sales of TVs, computers and tablet computers fell. In total, Argos had 788 stores by the end of the period.

Home Retail Group chief executive John Walden said in a trading statement today that Argos’ performance was in line with expectations, but that it should improve as the company’s transformation plan towards being a digital-first business progresses.

“We continue to expect that sales will be challenging during the first half at Argos, but we look forward to a stronger second half as we progress the Transformation Plan and introduce new propositions more broadly to the market,” he said.

Meanwhile Mulberry, an IRUK250 retailer, said in full-year results that digital was now an important part of the business, and would become more important in the future both as a sales channel and a “highly-effective” way of engaging with the group’s customers.

Digital sales of £18m in the year to March 31 were 15% up compared to the same time last year, and accounted for 12% of group sales, up from 10% at the same time last year. Overall sales, however, fell by 9% to £148.7m: retail sales grew by 1% to £109.9m but wholesale was down by 29% to £38.8m.

The year saw Mulberry roll out omnichannel services including click and collect, order online from the store and digital returns in store. The company sells online through, which trades in three currencies and ships to 190 countries. Fulfilment is from the UK.

In the future, the company said today, it would open fewer stores and instead focus on improving the range of omni-channel services to match “rapidly evolving customer buying behaviour”. It said: “Approximately 50% of the Group’s digital sales are now executed on mobile phones and tablets whilst two thirds of searches are made using these devices.”

Chief executive Thierry Andretta said: “I am pleased that the strategy we approved as a board last year is beginning to bear fruit. We are committed to strengthening our position in the UK whilst continuing to pursue our international growth strategy. We are focused upon translating the luxury values and Britishness of the Mulberry brand to a global audience.”

Chairman Godfrey Davis added that the company’s “initiatives to re-engage with our customers have delivered promising results.”

Internet Retailing’s IRUK 500 research ranks the top 500 ecommerce and multichannel retailers operating in the UK today.

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