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Investment in multichannel a priority for Home Retail Group

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Argos parent company Home Retail Group today said investment in multichannel sales would be a priority, as it unveiled growth in the proportion of Argos sales that take place online, but a drop in overall transactions.

Four in 10 of general retailer Argos’ sales are now made online, according to an end-of-year trading statement published today by the Home Retail Group. It said 40% of its sales took place on the internet in the eight weeks to February 25, up from 36% at the same time last year. At the same time total sales fell by 7.7% to £480m, while like-for-like sales were down by 8.5% driven, said the group, by the “continued weakness in the consumer electronics market.” Like-for-like sales in the 52 weeks of the past year stood at £3.87bn, down by 8.9% compared to the previous year.

Homebase sales for the same period were down by 6.2% to £195m, with like-for-like sales down by 6.5%. Over the 52 weeks to February 25 they fell by 2%, like-for-like, to £1.5bn.

Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, said: “With trends in this short, low volume, trading period being broadly as we anticipated, Group benchmark profit before tax for the 52-week period ended 25 February 2012 is expected to be in-line with current market expectations. Whilst we begin the new financial year in good operational shape, we will continue to manage robustly both the cost base and the cash position of the group, while prioritising investment in the ongoing development of our multichannel capabilities.”

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