HOME RETAIL GROUP shares soared 23 per cent yesterday after the company surprised the City with better-than-expected sales at its embattled catalogue chain Argos.
Like-for-like sales at Argos fell 0.2 per cent to £819m in the quarter to 2 June, after improved sales of laptops, tablets and ebook readers offset declines in TVs, audio and video gaming.
That compared with a fall of about 8.5 per cent in the previous quarter and exceeded analysts’ forecasts of a four per cent decline.
Home Retail chief executive Terry Duddy, however, warned it was too early to predict an upward trend in sales growth at Argos.
“When you look at the hard numbers on macroeconomics, life has not changed that much; and when you look at the hard numbers as far as consumer confidence, that is still in a difficult place,” he said.
Duddy said he was comfortable with market expectations for full year profit in a range of £37m to £100m, with analysts settled at around the £67m mark.
HRG said its DIY chain Homebase saw like-for-like sales slump 8.3 per cent, which it blamed on the country’s wettest April on record and a 15 per cent fall in sales of seasonal products.