House market recovery lifts Dixons’ sales

Kasmira Jefford
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DIXONS CARPHONE, the newly formed high street giant, said yesterday it had made a strong start to the year, with sales basking in the aftermath of the World Cup and benefitting from rising consumer confidence.

Chief executive Sebastian James said that the recovery in the housing market helped to boost demand and that while consumer confidence was still “a bit wobbly… generally speaking we are headed towards a recovery”.

Like-for-like sales at Dixons’ UK stores rose by four per cent in the three months to 31 July thanks to the World Cup, which it said had increased sales of its large, high-tech televisions.

The company has taken on high-end rivals such as John Lewis by introducing free service agreements on premium white goods such as fridges, which it said had also lifted sales.

Carphone Warehouse fared less well, with like-for-like sales down by six per cent. But James blamed the performance on the strength of sales last year when Samsung launched a phone and Apple hit back with fierce promotions.

James said students returning to school had helped lift sales of laptops in the current quarter while the launch of the Apple iPhone 6 last night would be “a big seller” when it hits the stores in the coming weeks.

Dixons Carphone, which officially started trading last month, is set to join the FTSE later this year.

Fasten your seatbelt, put your folding tray in its full upright position. Dixons Carphone could be in for a “bumpy” ride as it makes changes to the businesses in Europe but otherwise it is blue skies ahead, the boss of the newly formed group Sebastian James said yesterday. Replacing his much-loved use of marriage metaphors to refer to the recent £3.7bn merger with aviation-type references, James said the new business had had a “flying start”, with seven departments now merged and 11 Carphone “shop-in-shops” installed inside Dixons’ PC World stores already performing ahead of plan. “Our colleagues at both businesses have got their teeth into the integration process and have really started making changes happen on the ground,” he said. But James warned that some “tougher calls” over jobs were yet to be made as Dixons and Carphone Warehouse prepare to merge head offices. Dixons Carphone aims to cut 850 roles but create more than 1,600 jobs as the high street giant looks to take on rivals. “Overall we are creat­ing jobs and that gives us an opportunity to fund roles for many people in our business.” Meanwhile, he also brushed off concerns over the implications of an independent Scotland, arguing that in the event of a “Yes” vote, it would operate in a “loosely federated way” as it does in Ireland: “We are already a very international business.”

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