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Comet festive sales are a worry for owner Kesa

COMET dragged down sales at parent company Kesa as the electrical store failed to beat off its rivals over Christmas.
Like-for-like sales dropped by 3.9 per cent at Comet between 1 November and 8 January, the company revealed yesterday.
However, Kesa’s overall sales fall was limited to 0.3 per cent after growth in its international businesses.
Kesa’s Darty in France saw a 3.6 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, while developing operations across Italy, Turkey and Spain reported a 7.8 per cent rise in sales.
Chief executive Thierry Falque-Pierrotin said: “We were well prepared for our peak trading season and saw improving sales trends in most of our businesses. I am particularly pleased with the performance at Darty France and the progress we are making in our developing businesses.”
Top sellers over Christmas included televisions, digital cameras and coffee machines, although the big freeze in the UK hit sales.
Falque-Pierrotin added that the electricals market was better-than-expected last year, thanks in part to the temporary VAT reduction.
Sales of coffee making machines were being driven by manufacturers such as Nespresso introducing new products with heavy marketing, he said.
The group continued to experience a fall in revenues at its other smaller established chains around Europe but at a slower rate with like-for-like sales fall reducing to 5.5 per cent.
But Comet’s performance was overshadowed by strong festive trading figures from DSG-owned Currys and PC world, which reported results last week.
DSG International reported an eight cent rise in British and Irish electrical sales over the peak Christmas quarter.
analyst views: WHAT DOES KESA’s TRADING STATEMENT SAY ABOUT THE STATE OF THE eLECTRICAL GOODS MARKET?

KEITH BOWMAN | HARGREAVES LANSDOWN
Things ahead look challenging for Kesa. Competition in the market is increasing and the going is tough. The poor performance in the UK is surprising because with lower interest rates here you would think the consumers have more money in their pocket than somewhere like France.
SAM HART | CHARLES STANLEY
The electrical goods market remains very unattractive for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of pressure from supermarkets using electrical goods at low prices to get customers through the door and things are not looking bright for the likes of Kesa. I think companies like them will have to concentrate on service, installation and things like that in the future.
RAHUL SHARMA | MARTIN CURRIE
I know the Kesa trading statement was not so good but I think things will get better in electricals. People have got more money in their pockets because of the low interest rates, it’s just that they are worried about spending it because of confidence. People do need to make the big purchases but they have been putting them off for as long as possible. There are better times ahead.