Argos the shining star at Home Retail Group
Published: 24 October 2007
First half results show Argos generating 50% profit growth; Homebase 12%.
Additions to the Argos catalogue, the inclusion of premium homewares brands, and price cuts have helped fuel a 50% profit rise at Argos.
Homebase, meanwhile, generated a 12% rise.
Sales for the 26 weeks to September 1, 2007 grew 3.0% at Argos, Homebase's sales fell 0.3%.
On a like-for-like basis sales were up 1.4% at Argos, and down 2.5% at Homebase.
The multi-channel retailer said Argos's latest catalogue has 18,100 lines, (1,500/8% rise on last year), Argos Extra has increased from 600 to 3,700 as well as 5,000 brand new products across categories such as pet care, leisure, and eco-friendly goods.
Premium lines now include an own-brand homewares range - Inspire - as well as Dualit and Gaggia goods.
Argos said it lowered prices by 5% in the first half across the 8,000 re-included lines in its catalogue.
Homebase executives maintained that the wet summer hit like-for-like sales.
However, they took solace from improvements in its home enhancement offer, and product ranges to help boost trade in the second half.
Homebase has now increased its 'Furniture and Furnishings' catalogue, extended a kitchen installation service from 100 to 200 stores, and continues with its organic store expansion of 10-15 stores per year.
The retailer is awaiting the results of a trial refurbishment programme set to conclude in 2008.
Home Retail Group repeated the line that the recently acquired 27 Focus DIY stores will be transferred up to December 31, 2007 and will then be refitted ready for Spring 2008.
Chief executive Terry Duddy praised the group for its strong performance, operationally and financially, in the first half.
He said: "There was a particularly good result at
Argos with profit growth of 50%, while Homebase grew profits by 12% despite some difficult market conditions.
He went on: "Although we remain cautious given the uncertain consumer outlook, as we move into the key seasonal period both businesses continue to enhance their customer offers."