HOME Retail Group said yesterday that it aims to have more than 200 “digital” Argos stores by the end of the financial year after efforts to modernise its estate helped deliver a 32 per cent rise in full-year profit to £93.8m.
Argos will convert between 50 to 75 of its traditional stores into the new format, which has tablets to search for items in store, fast track lanes for people who have already paid for goods online and digital advertising screens instead of posters and no physical products on show.
It will also open 10 concessions within Sainsbury’s stores and a further 80 concessions within its Homebase stores, as it looks to better utilise space at the DIY chain.
Speaking from one of Argos’ smallest stores in the City, chief executive John Walden said that still aims to have halved the production of its paper catalogues by the end of its five-year transformation plan. However he admitted that customers were more attached than he expected to the paper catalogue and were taking longer to switch over to its new iPad option in store.
“I am surprised...I would have expected [demand for ] the catalogue to have dropped off faster, but I’m happy to see them still in use because its something Argos is known for uniquely,” he said.
Total group revenue rose 0.8 per cent to £5.7bn in the year to the end of February, with its Argos shops’ sales up 1.1 per cent to £4.1bn. Homebase sales slid 0.7 per cent to £1.5bn as it closed 27 stores.
Shares fell 1.85 per cent despite the group hiking its full-year dividend by 15 per cent to 3.8 pence.