Home Retail Group reports slowdown in sales decline at Argos

UK-based household goods retailer Home Retail Group plc (HRG) (LSE:HOME), which owns Argos and Homebase, reported today that sales at Argos fell at a slower rate in its first quarter, while sales at Homebase DIY stores were affected by the recent bad weather.

At Argos like-for-like sales declined by 0.2% in the quarter, compared to a fall of 8.5% in the previous quarter.

The company recorded improved sales of consumer electronics, driven by continued strong growth in laptops and tablets which offset a drop in sales in the TV, audio and video gaming categories.

Total sales grew by 0.2% to GBP819m.

Argos registered a 24% increase in sales through its online Check & Reserve service, with these sales now representing 29% of total Argos sales. Total Internet sales grew 17% and represented 41% of the total Argos sales.

Total multi-channel sales for the company represented 51% of its sales, up from 46% a year earlier.

In the Homebase business total sales in the first quarter declined by 8.1% to GBP421m and like-for-like sales were down 8.3%.

According to HRG the decrease in Homebase sales was mainly due to poor sales of seasonal products, which represented about 40% of total sales and fell by around 15% because of the wet start to the summer, which meant that customers were less interested in buying things like garden furniture.

Chief executive Terry Duddy remarked that the first quarter was a “particularly volatile trading period”, but said that Argos had a solid start to the year supported by its multi-channel performance.

At this stage in the financial¬†the group is “comfortable with current market expectations” for its full year profit, the chief executive added.