Dixons Carphone today said it had its "strongest Black Friday" yet as it reported a dip in first-half group revenues but a 23% boost to pre-tax profits.
The retail group includes Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse. Currys (pictured)
was one of the retailers predicted
to see most visitors on Black Friday, which subsequently set
a £1.1bn record for UK online trading in a single day.
Similarly Dixons Carphone retail businesses had their "biggest day in our history," said chief executive Sebastian James. At the peak of Black Friday trading, he said, shoppers were making five orders a second, 56% up on the same time last year.
"UK electricals and mobile had a really good day as we traded Black Friday hard in the group for the first time," he said.
In 2014 the Currys website saw Black Friday queues. This year, said James, levels of traffic across a 10-day discount event brought higher levels of traffic, but IT improvements meant that both websites and servers stood up against the "onslaught". "Last year," he said, "the traffic we had on Weds night this year would have brought our website down."
On Black Friday itself, deals went live at 6am. At that point, said James, 75% of visitors came through mobile devices, but by 9am, as the working day started, 50% of traffic was on desktop. TVs and laptops proved the most popular draw, but offers ranged from top-of-the-range TVs to £29 coffee machines. Stocking up for the day meant putting in huge orders – some 0.5m TVs were ordered for the store's Christmas promotional events – but so manufacturing took place as early as May for delivery to warehouses in August and September.
But, said James, "This is just the start of a crucial period for our business. Christmas and Boxing Day yet to come. Focused on making sure we have a really great day on Boxing Day."
The electricals retailer reported group revenues of £4.39bn in the first half of the year, 3% down on the £4.53bn reported at the same time last year. Like-for-like sales, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures, were 5% ahead in the 26 weeks to October 31. In the UK and Ireland market, sales of £2.87bn were 2% up on the £2.82m reported at the same time last year, while like-for-like sales were 7% ahead but falling sales in the Nordics and Southern Europe meant group revenues were down on last time.
Growth also came in the company's Connected World Services business, which focuses on connected products that will play a part in the emerging Internet of Things. There, Dixons Carphone reported sales of £67m, 18% up from £57m last time. Much of this came through the Samsung Experience Stores that it operates on behalf of the mobile technology brand. The stores combine digital with human advice to communicate the brand.
James said the division had had a "very encouraging start to the current financial year. "In addition, we have done some very good work in developing our pipeline of major global accounts which should bear fruit in the months and years ahead. I continue to be happy to invest in this part of the group and am increasingly optimistic that it will deliver our ambitious longer-term goals."
Group pre-tax profits of £121m were 23.4% up from £98m at the same time last year.