Home shopping business is offloaded
Retail conglomerate GUS, owner of Argos and Homebase, has sold Wehkamp, its last remaining home shopping business for£265 million.

The division will be sold to private equity firm Industri Kapital, and a complete handover is expected in December, subject to EU regulatory approval.

Wehkamp is the leading home shopping brand in the Netherlands and generated sales of£222 million and operating profit of£22.5 million in the year to March 31.

GUS group chief executive John Peace said: 'This sale leaves Argos Retail Group focused solely on general merchandise retailing in the UK and Ireland. We believe that the transaction is in the best interests of GUS and of the customers and employees of Wehkamp.'

Numis retail analyst Steve Davies added: 'This business always looked a little isolated within the group after GUS sold off its UK and Swedish mail order businesses in 2003.'

The disposal of Wehkamp, as anticipated by Retail Week (May 20), comes ahead of a tough year. Both Homebase and Argos experienced a first-half drop in sales.

At the results earlier this month, GUS chief executive John Peace said: 'Argos is planning on the assumption that like-for-like sales will remain in decline for the market as a whole for the next 12 months.'