Home Retail not as bad as forecast

SHARES in Home Retail Group jumped more than six per cent yesterday to hit their highest level since September, after the household goods retailer said sales had fallen less than analyst forecast.

Analysts issued a slightly higher profit forecast for the full-year between £250m and £275m, following the more upbeat statement.

Like-for-like sales at its Argos chain were down 4.9 per cent in the 18 weeks to 1 January.

Meanwhile, sales at Homebase fell by a better-than-expected 1.2 per cent.

Chief executive Terry Duddy said his staff had done a “heroic job”.

He added: “In the bad weather. We haven’t made too much of it, but the reality is that where it snowed, sales were bad.”

He said sales at Argos had been driven by iPad tablets and lap-top computers, while toy sales were lifted by the strong performance of Lego.

Online sales accounted for 38 per cent of Argos sales up from 35 per cent for the same period last year.

Altium Securities said in a note: “We tend to the view that there is long-term value in Home Retail, in the shape of its large market shares and multichannel platform, but there are a growing list of failed retailers with large market shares, so we think that the market will take a little convincing.”