Dixons’ underlying pre-tax profit rocketed to £30.2m in its first half to October 31 from £14m excluding exceptionals last year.
Total group sales increased 7.2% to £3.43bn and like-for-likes rose 6%.
In the UK and Ireland, like-for-likes surged 9% over the half and total sales advanced 7%, driven by the exit of Comet from the market. UK and Ireland underlying operating profits increased five-fold to £31.4m. Its Knowhow delivery, installation and repair service grew 13% in the UK and Ireland to £19.6m..
The electricals group disposed of international businesses Electroworld Turkey, Unieuro and Pixmania, which led to disposal losses of £75.6m.
Dixons chief executive Sebastian James said these disposals were a “real achievement”. “Quite apart from removing a significant profit-drag on the business, these changes mean that we can really focus on new and exciting opportunities to do more for our customers and suppliers, and on working more closely to drive tangible benefits from being part of our group,” he said.
In the UK, the retailer launched two new store designs over the half – a high street format in Bluewater and a new Currys/PC World superstore in Aylesbury.
Both stores are trialing new features such as mobile and flexible fittings, with moveable play tables to adjust to seasonal and technology trends. The stores also have heat map cameras to understand how customers use the store and interact with product. It said results had been “encouraging” and many of the innovations would be rolled out to further stores.
Underlying profit in its Northern Europe division dropped 6.2% to £45.5m while losses widened at its Greek business from £4.1m to £5.8m. Dixons said after “exceptional growth” across the Nordics over the past two to three years sales growth has now returned to more “normalised” levels.
In Greece, where like-for-likes plunged 14% over the half, Dixons said the economic environment continues to be challenging. It said its management team are taking a “number of actions” to deal with the trading environment and its Greek business Kotsovolos has improved its offer of “complete solutions for customers”.
James said: “I am pleased to report that we have had a successful first half with customer satisfaction and profitability up considerably year on year. The UK and Ireland in particular has performed very well while our Nordic business is more than holding its own in a somewhat more competitive market. Our Greek business continues to grow market share against some gusty headwinds.
“We remain cautious about the outlook for consumers in our markets; very strong trading this time last year, together with the fact that we have now annualised Comet’s exit makes the second half more challenging. Nevertheless, we have had a great first half and our stores have never looked better – or had better offers for customers.”