GUS's third quarter shows home improvements strong, while toys and jewellery falter
Argos managed to increase sales in the 15 weeks to January 8, but only by expansion. Parent company GUS reported today that its mixed merchandise arm experienced a challenging environment, yet achieved a growth in sales of 6 per cent year on year. However, the majority of that increase came from store openings, with like-for-like sales increasing only 1 per cent. Homebase fared better, with like-for-like growth reaching a respectable 4 per cent. Total sales for the chain grew 8 per cent year on year.

The toys and jewellery markets were difficult over a period that traditionally sees these lines sell double volumes compared with the rest of the year, the retailer said. However, revenues were boosted by strong performances from consumer electronics, photography, white goods and mobile phones. Argos managed to increase gross margin slightly, through supply chain efficiencies and as a result of the weaker dollar. Homebase revenues benefited from a well-timed Sale event and good stock availability.

GUS's real success story, however, was its credit information arm Experian, which experienced record growth during the quarter. The division managed to grow sales over the period by 24 per cent at constant exchange rates. Group chief executive John Peace said that the retailer was 'comfortable with expectations for the group for the full year'.