Monday 20 November 2017

Tablet computers give Dixons early Christmas present

Graham Ruddick

Britain's rush to buy tablet computers has sparked a surge in sales for Dixons Retail, the owner of Currys and PC World.

The retailer said that UK like-for-like sales rose by 9pc in the six months to the end of October, despite consumers remaining under pressure.

The growth in sales means that Dixons posted underlying pre-tax profits in the first-half of its financial year for the first time in six years.

The recovery represents a significant turnaround for Dixons, whose future on the high street was in doubt following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent turmoil on the high street.

The retailer has been boosted by the demise of its main rival Comet a year ago, but also a corporate drive to improve customer service and strike deals with suppliers that allows its stores to take on Amazon on prices and offer exclusive products.

Sebastian James, chief executive, said: "We remain cautious about the outlook for consumers in our markets. Very strong trading this time last year, together with the fact that we have now annualised Comet's exit makes the second half more challenging.

"Nevertheless, we have had a great first half and our stores have never looked better - or had better offers for customers."

As well as the growth in sales in the UK, Dixons reported a 3pc rise in like-for-like sales in its Northern European business. However, like-for-like sales in Greece dropped by 14pc.

This meant that pre-tax profits grew from £600,000 last year to £22.7m.

However, these results do not include Dixons troublesome online business in France, Pixmania, or its Turkish operations Electroworld.

In the last few months Dixons has struck deals to sell these operations so it can focus on its businesses in the UK and the Nordics. The losses on these sales totalled £95m, meaning Dixons racked up a post-tax loss of £100.9m.

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