Argos like-for-like sales jumped 5.2% in the eight weeks to March 2 as sales of tablet devices drove a strong performance.

Sales were also driven by increased demand in white goods and core electricals, offsetting weaker trading in homewares.

Total sales at Argos increased 4.3% to £501m. Two stores closed in the period, reducing the store portfolio to 737.

Total internet sales were up and now account for 43% of Argos’ total sales, up from 40% a year ago. Mobile sales soared 117%. 

Gross margin declined by about 75 basis points, driven by the sales mix impact from the improved performance in consumer electronics.

Home Retail chief executive Terry Duddy said: “This has been a good outcome to a challenging year with group benchmark profit before tax now expected to be around £90m, and our net cash position increasing by approximately £200m to around £395m. 

“Against a backdrop of subdued consumer spending for the new financial year, we will continue to invest and are focused on delivery of the transformation plan to reinvent Argos as a digital retail leader and the Homebase proposition.” 

At Argos stablemate Homebase, like-for-likes fell 1.5% while total sales declined 2.8% to £191m. One store closed in the period taking the DIY retailer’s store count to 336.

Gross margins improved by about 50 basis points.

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