Home Retail boss expects sales to drop

THE chief executive of Home Retail Group warned that hopes of an “Olympics bounce” on the high street next year could prove misguided.

Terry Duddy told City A.M. that consumer confidence was as low as in early 2009. The Argos and Homebase owner reported a second quarter slump which stopped short of analysts’ worst fears.

Duddy said: “There are some people who will say there is a feelgood factor in 2012 with the Olympics and the Queen’s [Diamond] Jubilee but from an economic point of view I see little to change the outlook.”

Duddy expects a fall of four to six per cent in Argos’ like-for-like sales for the year to February 2012.

The group is expecting a better Christmas this year, however, helped in part by the refurbishment of its 750 Argos stores, nearly half of which has been completed.

Shares in Home Retail closed up 1.99 per cent at 117.8p last night after it said sales at Argos stores open more than a year fell 8.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 August.

Two-thirds of the decline was blamed on the consumer electronics sector, down by about 20 per cent over the quarter. Sales were buoyant last year in the run-up to the football World Cup.

Homebase recorded a like-for-like sales fall of 3.1 per cent in Q2.