Home Retail has appointed Argos boss John Walden as its new chief executive as it reveals sales growth at its fascias.

Walden, who became Argos managing director in 2012, will succeed Terry Duddy at parent Home Retail, taking over on March 14 and ending months of speculation.

Walden said: “The retail landscape is changing quickly, and I am optimistic that with solid plans and 50,000 talented colleagues, Home Retail Group is well positioned for a successful future.”

Home Retail chairman John Coombe welcomed Walden to his new role and thanked Duddy.

He said: Terry leaves with our very best wishes for his continued success in the future.

“His contribution during his time with the group has been significant, including driving the development of the group, providing clear leadership through challenging times and pioneering changes in retail that position the business ready for a digital future.” 

The appointment came as Home Retail revealed both Argos and sister retailer Homebase posted sales growth in the 18 weeks to January 4.

Argos generated sales up 3.6% to £1.8bn in the period as like-for-likes jumped 3.8%. But gross margin fell 50bps because of the sales mix impact of electricals, but the retailer said that was partially offset by its Sale.

Sales were driven by online, which now accounts for 46% of total Argos revenue. Transactions via mobile were also strong and represented 20% of total sales. Argos opened one net store in the period, taking the estate to 738.

Home Retail said electrical products performed well, driven by growth in video gaming, tablets, televisions and white goods.

Homebase recorded a 2.3% sales increase to £464m, as like-for-likes rose 4.7%. Turnover was driven by big-ticket items but this sales mix impacted gross margins, which fell 75bps.

The retailer closed 10 stores in the period, reducing its estate to 323.

Duddy said: “As a result of the trading performance, we now expect to achieve full-year group benchmark profits towards the top end of the current range of market expectations of £90m to £109m.  We remain on track to deliver the investment plans in both businesses.”

Home Retail appoints Argos boss John Walden as chief executive