Argos suffers a post-festive depression

 
Adam Hignett
Argos experienced weak trading in consumer electronics (Source: Corbis)
Argos had little cause for post-festive cheer after sales at the catalogue retailer slumped in the eight weeks to 28 February, it announced yesterday.

The retailer experienced weak trading in consumer electronics and said its ongoing programme aimed at improving customer experiences had impacted on footfall.

Argos outlined its five-year trans­form­ation plan in 2012 with the aim of restoring sustainable growth and reinvent itself as a e-commerce firm.

The implementation of this plan has seen the gradual replacement of its iconic catalogues with digital search platforms, deliver more choice as well as restructuring to save costs.

Overall, the strategy has seen sales at the retailer stabilise, with like-for-like sales in the year ending 28 February notching up 0.6 per cent to £4.1bn.

But the retailer may have cause for concern, with the final eight weeks of the period seeing a decline in like-for-like sales of five per cent compared to the same period in 2014.

Freddie George, a retail analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, said: “We still need to be convinced that the recent Argos initiatives will improve earnings above and beyond the current momentum from the improving economic outlook.

“It is also hard to see any change in market dynamics, that will lead to a strengthening in sales of the company’s core categories while the company is being impacted by the strong take up of ‘Click and Collect’ of other competitors, such as John Lewis.”

Shares in its parent company, Home Retail Group, tumbled on the news closing down 11 per cent to 174p per share.

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