LONDON Jan 16 Home Retail Group,
Britain's biggest household goods retailer, said on Thursday the
head of its Argos business John Walden would replace outgoing
chief executive Terry Duddy.
The news came as the Argos and Homebase owner said a strong
performance in its Christmas quarter meant it expected full-year
group benchmark profit to be towards the top end of a range of
market expectations of 90 million pounds ($147.16 million) to
109 million pounds.
Home Retail said on Thursday sales at Argos stores open over
a year for the 18 weeks to Jan. 4 had risen 3.8 percent, and
were up 4.7 percent at its Homebase DIY chain, both ahead of
analyst forecasts for a 2.5 percent rise at both divisions.
Argos makes around 70 percent of group revenue.
Duddy, one of the longest serving leaders in the stores
sector, announced in September that he would quit the firm by
July. Argos Managing Director Walden, who has been with the
group since Feb. 2012, had been viewed by analysts as a clear
favourite for the top job and will start as CEO on March 14.
"The retail landscape is changing quickly, and I am
optimistic that with solid plans and 50,000 talented colleagues,
Home Retail Group is well positioned for a successful future,"
After five years of profit decline, Home Retail is
implementing a turnaround plan, revamping its Homebase stores
and reinventing household goods retailer Argos from a catalogue
firm to a digital business, targeting a 15 percent rise in sales
to 4.5 billion pounds by 2018.
The third-quarter sales growth follows a 2.7 percent rise at
Argos in its second quarter and an 11 percent jump at Homebase
in the same period, thanks to strong demand for garden furniture
and barbecue sales during a warm British summer.
Argos said it had also seen strong demand for video gaming,
tablets and TVs over the key Christmas trading period, with
internet sales growing to 46 percent of total sales, up from 42
percent a year ago, helped by rising mobile commerce sales.
However, the group said margins had fallen at both Argos and
Homebase in the quarter, down 50 and 75 basis points
respectively, due to higher sales of electrical products at
Argos and an increasing number of big ticket items sold at