UK trading conditions tough
Kesa Electricals, Europe's third-biggest electricals retailer, revealed an improved sales trend in its two main businesses today, but said it was too early to predict how Christmas will go for the group.

'In very difficult market conditions, overall the group delivered satisfactory sales during the period,' said Kesa chief executive Jean-Noel Labroue. 'Given the economic climate and market uncertainties, it is too early to predict customer spending patterns during the key December/January trading period.'

Like-for-like sales at Comet fell 3.1 per cent in the third quarter, although this represented an improved performance over the first half.

Numis retail analyst Steve Davies said: 'Comet's performance in the UK has picked up a bit, or at least got less worse.'

French business Darty experienced like-for-like sales up 0.2 per cent compared with a fall of 0.3 per cent last year. However, it warned that strong sales of key product continued to affect the product margin mix unfavourably.

Furniture chain BUT's sales deteriorated throughout the period as a result of a tough market and aggressive competition. The group said the French retailer's like-for-like sales were down 4.1 per cent. Kesa said it would stay focused on managing margins at the business and controlling costs.

The group's other businesses, which include Darty Italy and Dutch chain Vanden Borre, experienced a 7.1 per cent like-for-like sales improvement.

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