Trading flattens out in the second half for Argos as consumer spending slows down
Argos increased sales in the year to March 31 by 8 per cent, parent company GUS announced in its second half-year trading statement this morning. Like-for-like sales over the year for the mixed merchandise retail arm reached 3 per cent growth. However, Argos's like-for-like sales were flat during the period, against a background of weakening consumer demand. Argos's total sales for the six months to March 31 grew 5 per cent.

Homebase's yearly figures were better, with sales up 6 per cent and 3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. However, GUS calculated the year to February 28, avoiding inclusion of the early Easter. In the five months to February 28, Homebase increased sales by 6 per cent and like-for-like sales grew 2 per cent.

The group's international credit arm Experian continued to perform well, with sales increasing by 18 per cent at constant exchange rates for the year to March 31.

The group holds a 66 per cent stake in fashion brand Burberry, which yesterday reported a sales increase of 10 per cent for the year to March 31 across retail wholesale and licensing divisions.

GUS chief executive John Peace said: 'Despite challenges in some of our markets, GUS has completed another successful year. Looking forward, while the UK retail environment has become more difficult, we remain confident that the strong competitive positions and clear strategies for growth in all our main businesses will enable GUS to deliver further progress in the new financial year.'