LONDON Jan 16 Dixons Retail, Europe's
No. 2 electricals retailer, posted a rise in sales in the key
Christmas trading period, gaining market share from rivals,
though it cautioned that growth would slow.
"We have some very strong comparables in the fourth quarter
and, with a later Easter as well, I expect performance in the
remainder of our financial year to be more modest than the year
to date," said Chief Executive Seb James, adding that the UK's
economic recovery was still in its "fledgling" stage.
The group, home to the Currys and PC World chains in
Britain, Elkjop in Nordic countries and Kotsovolos in Greece,
said on Thursday group sales at stores open over a year rose 3
percent in the Nov. 1 to Jan. 4 period, driven by sales of
tablet computers, kitchen gadgets and big screen televisions.
That compares with first half growth of 6 percent.
Like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland rose 5 percent,
helped by a particularly strong post-Christmas sale, and were up
2 percent in northern Europe. Sales in Greece on the same basis
were, however, down 8 percent.
Gross margin for the group fell 0.5 percent, reflecting the
mix of products sold.
Across Europe many store groups are still struggling as
government efforts to bring down national debts reduce
consumers' disposable incomes. Electrical retailers have been
particularly exposed because they sell discretionary goods and
face intense competition from supermarkets and internet players
like Amazon and eBay.
In Britain, Dixons' biggest market, the retailer has
benefited from a tablets boom, as well as the demise of major
rival Comet in 2012 and problems at Jessops and HMV. It has also
been cutting costs, revamping stores and seeking to improve
products, prices and customer service.
Shares in Dixons, which trails Metro's
Media-Saturn by annual sales, have increased 85 percent over the
last year as it has increasingly focused on markets where it has
a leading "multi-channel" position with a combined stores and
Over the last six months the firm has offloaded the
loss-making e-commerce business PIXmania and operations in
Turkey and partially exited Italy.
Shares in Dixons closed Wednesday at 50.4 pence, valuing the
business at 1.85 billion pounds ($3.03 billion).