Electricals chain Comet has reported a slump in like-for-like sales of 7.3% over Christmas, hit by the bad weather and intense promotional activity.

The Kesa-owned chain reported total sales down 6.5% in the period November 1 to January 18.

Comet said it delivered record trading from Boxing Day through to the New Year weekend, but it said this strong performance failed to offset the weaker sales seen early in December due to competitive trading and the bad weather.

It said gross margin declined by 140bps reflecting the promotional landscape.

Online sales only grew 3%, hit by some disruption during the introduction of its new software platform in November.

Comet said since the VAT rise on January 4, it has seen sales trends soften, and in light of these factors it is now anticipating that Comet will deliver a small retail loss for the year.

Overall, Kesa reported total sales grew by 0.4%, and fell by 4% on a like-for-like basis. It said the bad weather in its major markets had an estimated 2% sales impact.

Kesa has signed a Euro455m five-year revolving credit facility, replacing the group’s existing Euro500m facility.

Chief executive Thierry Falque-Pierrotin said: “Against a background of increased competitiveness, Darty France and the other established businesses delivered a robust performance, offset by softer trading at Comet and the developing businesses.

“The group gross margin rate was in line with last year, and the benefit of our cross channel sales strategy was further demonstrated by the 11 per cent growth in web generated sales.

“We remain confident in our strategy and committed to our plans to implement the Darty concept in all our markets and we have put in place a number of additional measures to improve revenue and reduce costs.”

Kesa said while trading remains robust at Darty, given the current trading in the UK and the developing businesses, it expects adjusted pre-tax profit for the current year to be ahead of last year and towards the lower end of market expectations.