Argos has traditionally been strong in sales of home-related products, but its crown has slipped in recent years.
Argos has traditionally been strong in sales of home-related products, but its crown has slipped in recent years after relentless pressure from Ikea, Dunelm and also John Lewis, who made a big play for the more price-conscious customer when it launched its House by John Lewis own brand in 2012.
But Argos came out fighting last week with news that it is launching a new home own brand this financial year. John Walden, the chief executive of Argos owner Home Retail, described it as a ‘power brand’ – meaning the retailer intended to plough a big chunk of investment into getting it off the ground. He will be hoping the brand will give Argos’s home offer a new lease of life. While the retailer is enjoying a return to form across the business generally - benchmark operating profit increased 12% £112.3m in its full year – its home sales are not faring so well. In fact, along with its other traditional stalwart category jewellery, both furniture and homewares suffered what Home Retail called “small declines” in its full year.
When pressed on it last week, Walden was giving very little away regarding the own brand clearly aiming to keep his rivals in the dark. He did say the launch will be part of his plans to consolidate Argos’ 40 or more own brands by around 40% amid attempts to build upon a few strong ones. Walden says he wants to extend existing ranges to include more aspirational products in order to give Argos “universal appeal”.
The American, who has been in the top job just a few weeks after leading Argos since 2012, has done an impressive job with Argos so far. With momentum building and a clear strategy underpinning it, competitors will be eagerly awaiting details on the launch of the home brand which Walden hopes will revitalise its flagging, yet important, home business.