Kesa chief executive Jean-Noël Labroue said that Comet’s comparable store sales had slipped into “small negative territory” for the period since its financial year to January 31, which he largely attributed to the consumer slowdown.
Labroue said it was the first time Comet’s like-for-like sales had fallen since 2005, when it had a “product issue” with white goods that caused a decline in sales.
For the year to January 31, Comet delivered total sales up 3.3 per cent to£1.73 billion and like-for-likes up 0.4 per cent. The retailer posted a 4.1 per cent decline in retail profit to£44.2 million against a good performance for the same period last year, which included a net lease premium of£3.5 million from the closure of the Fosse Park store.
Labroue said that the consumer slowdown and stalling housing market in the UK would have the biggest impact on sales of white goods.
Kesa, which also operates the Darty chain in France, reported group retail profit – based on accounts prepared with BUT as a discontinued operation – rose 0.6 per cent to£145.6 million, on group sales up 10.5 per cent to£4.31 billion. In January, Kesa announced the sale of its BUT furniture and electricals subsidiary to a consortium of Colony Capital, Goldman Sachs and Merchant Equity Partners.
Although for a 12-month period, Kesa’s figures were interims because of a change to its reporting period.