World Cup gives boost to Argos and Homebase sales

Kasmira Jefford
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Home Retail Group enjoyed a strong start to the year as the warmer weather and the World Cup prompted Britons to stock up on barbecues and new wide-screen televisions.

Argos’ like-for-like sales rose 4.9 per cent in the 13 weeks to 31 May, the chain’s eighth consecutive quarter of growth, driven by sales of garden furniture and outdoor toys.

Finance director Richard Ashton said TV sales had also performed well, mirroring what happened at the last World Cup, but tablet sales slowed as customers opted for cheaper brands over iPads.

Like-for-like sales at Homebase grew by 7.9 per cent, also helped by demand for seasonal outdoor products, which accounted for 40 per cent of sales.

Home Retail launched a turnaround plan for Argos last year aimed at hauling it into the digital age and pushing sales up 15 per cent to £4.5bn by 2018.

In November, it launched it first digital concept store, which has iPads for browsing items instead of laminated catalogues and fast track lanes where customers who have ordered online can collect products within 60 seconds of arriving in the store.

Chief executive John Walden said Argos would revamp 25 branches this year but keep makes changes to the format before going ahead with a national roll-out of the digital store.

It has also been speeding up its deliveries by trialling a “hub and spoke” model, where larger stores deliver products to smaller nearby stores.

Ashton warned the firm will face tough comparatives for the rest of 2014 given its record performance last year.

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