Argos has recorded its first like-for-like sales rise for five years as the general merchandise retailer grew its multichannel business.
Like-for-likes at Argos increased 2.1% while total sales were up 1.5% to £3.93bn. Benchmark operating profit increased 6% to £100m in the year to March 2.
Home Retail Group chief executive Terry Duddy said: “This was an encouraging year with both businesses growing their market shares. Argos delivered like-for-like sales growth for the first time in five years and multichannel sales broke through the 50% threshold.
“Our strong financial position enables Argos to deliver on its transformation plan to become a digital retail leader, and for Homebase to invest in the roll-out of its new proposition.”
Multichannel sales now represent 51%, or £2bn, of Argos’ total sales - up from 48% the year before.
Online sales jumped 10% to reach 42% of Argos’ total sales. Check & Reserve, which represents 31% of total sales, remained “the fastest-growing channel”.
Mobile sales accounted for 10% of Argos’ total sales.
The retailer added: “Our view of the 2013/14 financial year is that it will remain similar to 2012/13, with consumer spending continuing to be impacted by ongoing inflationary pressures and low levels of consumer confidence.
“However, the group’s strong financial position enables us to deliver on the transformation plan to reinvent Argos as a digital retail leader and to invest in the roll-out of the Homebase proposition, and as a result, ensure that the group is well positioned for economic recovery.”
Argos “refreshed” its website in October and in January it trialled a ‘hub and spoke’ distribution model and a new Argos catalogue format, allowing immediate collection on a selection of lines and next-day collection on an extended range of products which are available online. “We are pleased with the progress that Argos has made so far on its transformation plan and further improvements will be delivered in the 2013/14 financial year,” said Duddy.
Homebase like-for-like sales declined 4.9% while benchmark operating profit slumped 52% to £11m.
Total sales at the DIY retailer fell 5.2% to £1.43bn.
Duddy said: “Homebase delivered a creditable performance in its peak trading period, given the adverse impact of record poor weather conditions on its seasonal product sales and the difficult market conditions in big ticket categories.”
Homebase’s online sales were up 16% and now represent 5% of total sales, “driven principally by Reserve and Collect”, according to Duddy.
Home Retail said the group’s portfolio of 1,073 stores “remains a core component of its multichannel offer”.
Duddy added: “Against a backdrop of subdued consumer spending, the group has achieved a good outcome to what has been a challenging year. Both our businesses delivered market share growth, although their respective total markets declined further as customers continued to face pressure on their disposable incomes.”
Home Retail has also sold its 33% stake in 13-store Irish retailer Homestore + More for £11m.