Multichannel retailer Argos is poised to unveil a new-model store designed to reflect its shift to digital commerce.
A “handful” of the shops will open in a few weeks’ time, parent Home Retail chief executive Terry Duddy said as he posted interim results that showed a fifth consecutive quarterly rise in Argos’ like-for-likes.
The shops, locations of which have not yet been disclosed, will incorporate features such as voice stock picking, fast-track collection and the introduction of tablet computers to replace laminated catalogues, pencils and paper.
The “digital concept stores”, or elements of them, will be rolled out if successful. “We want something that gives a good sense of the future,” Duddy said.
Argos is at the early stage of a reinvention under managing director John Walden to transform it into a “digital retail leader” and its multichannel operations showed continued strong growth in the 26 weeks to August 31.
Multichannel sales rose from 51% to 52% of Argos’ total. Mobile commerce grew by 124% to account for 16% of the total. Duddy said he anticipated m-commerce rising to 20% over the Christmas period.
Argos pioneered retail smartphone apps and services such as click-and-collect. It is now focusing on gathering customer data by encouraging shoppers to register their details – which is not necessary for click-and-collect, for instance – which will enable it to understand its customers better.
It has doubled registered customer numbers to 8 million over the last year and this Christmas expects to send out 100 million customer emails with bespoke product recommendations – its biggest ever personalised campaign.
Argos recorded a 136% increase in benchmark operating profit to £7.7m on sales up 1.8% to £1.72bn in its first half. Like-for-likes rose 2.3%.
Profits at DIY stablemate Homebase rose by 11% to £27.2m on sales up 4.4% to £822.3m. Like-for-likes rose 5.9% – its best performance since being acquired in 2002.