Home Retail Group has warned of an inconsistent recovery as Argos’s like-for-likes edged up and Homebase’s sales remained flat in the second quarter.
Argos posted a 1.2% increase in like-for-like sales during the quarter ending August 30, while its total sales grew by 1.4% to £901m.
Meanwhile, like-for-likes at sister company Homebase rose by 0.1% and its total sales declined by 2.8% to £390m due to a net of six closures in the quarter, leaving the retailer with 316 stores.
Home Retail Group chief executive John Walden has warned of an inconsistent recovery in the UK, which echoes comments from Asda boss Andy Clarke.
Walden said: “Key economic indicators seem to be improving, however retail spending in general has been inconsistent across both product categories and geographies, suggesting that there is not yet a sustainable, broad-based consumer recovery.”
Argos’s increase in like-for-likes represents its ninth consecutive quarter of growth and at the same time it has also reported an improvement in margins.
Walden explained: “For the first time in many years, [Argos’s] sales growth was supported by an improved gross margin performance.
“Homebase performed well over its peak trading period, following up its good performance in the first quarter with broadly flat like-for-like sales in the second quarter. This is especially pleasing given that we achieved this against a strong 11% like-for-like in the same period last year.”
Argos’s growth in total sales was boosted by the opening of a net 13 stores in the quarter, including nine Argos concessions within Homebase stores and four small format stores.
Like-for-like growth was boosted by an increase in sales of electrical products following strong sales of TVs, video gaming products and white goods, which was offset by a further decline in tablets.