Currys: a strong performer, but vulnerable to squeezed-middle syndrome
It’s a long stretch from tumble dryers to games consoles, but that’s the space Currys has occupied in the UK retail landscape for decades.
For Currys , the sort of establishment consumers turns to for the latest cutting-edge gadgets as well as more mundane kitchen appliances, there is an ever-present danger of trying to be all things to all people, but not actually becoming very significant to anyone: the squeezed middle that called time on Woolworths.
A recent profit warning from Currys parent company Dixons Carphone sent the group’s share price tumbling after it cautioned shoppers weren’t renewing their mobile phones, and attendant airtime contracts, as frequently as they used to, leading to a decline in one of its revenue streams.
It’s the brands within the Dixons Carphone group that help guide the whole to a series of focused customer engagements, and – hopefully – fends off the dangers of the squeezed middle. How that will fare on the high street once it merges its Carphone Warehouse , Currys, and PC World stores remains to be seen however. But it will need to redouble its efforts on differentiating itself and on the provision of excellent in-store customer experience.
The latter is a moot point; most generalist retailers struggle to balance highly trained, knowledgeable staff with the pressures on margins and wages that affect the whole sector. But when you’re selling and servicing gadgets to a tech-savvy customer base you have to perform well consistently. That’s not always easy. The Knowhow computer services sub-brand within the group is one such example of where a great extension to the brand experience carries more risk than simply being good at what you’re famous for.
Online, Currys leaves you in no doubt that it is here to compete on price, despite the solid range of additional services, including software and hardware bundles and helpful signposting on some products (such as laptops which are labelled ‘everyday’, ‘achieve’ and ‘gaming’ to give you an indication of their suited usage). Delivery and collection options are displayed prominently and relevant to the location of the person browsing the site. There are also plenty of social sharing options, and user reviews collated via Reevoo.