Dixons back in health after a return to profit

 
Kasmira Jefford
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DIXONS’ chief executive said the group was well on its way to a recovery after exiting three troubled European businesses and posting its first underlying interim profit in six years.

The recession claimed Comet, Jessops and HMV as casualties last year, with Dixons the last man standing in a sector particularly hit by the squeeze in spending and competition from supermarkets and online rivals.

“We were very much in the hospital ward and we are out now and feeling better and we want to make sure we stay there,” Sebastian James said.

Dixons, which trades as Currys and PC World, reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £30.2m for the six months to the end of October, compared with a £22.2m loss last year.

Like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland increased nine per cent, thanks to booming tablets sales and the collapse of Comet last year.

Finance chief Humphrey Singer said that about half of like-for-like sales growth in the first half came from former Comet customers.

Group underlying sales rose by six per cent, dampened by a 14 per cent decline in Greece.

Over the last six months the firm has sold its operations in Turkey, its French online business PIXmania and partially exited Italy. It is also slimming down its UK estate from just over 500 to between 380 and 450 stores. James said it could shed as many as 30 of its 70 stores on the high street and in shopping centres.

Singer said the company is considering reinstating a dividend: “We would like to be in the club of people who pay a dividend but as soon as it is the right time to do so.”

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