Dixons narrows group losses
Dixons, Europe's second largest electrical retailer, narrowed its group loss for the first half of the year with strong demand for tablets and televisions pushing it to a first profit in the UK and Ireland for five years.
Dixons, which operates the Currys and PC World chains, reported an underlying pretax loss of £22.2 million for the 24 weeks to October 13th, ahead of expectations for a similar loss of £25.3 million made a year ago.
Sales at stores open more than a year rose 3 per cent in the period, driven by a strong first quarter as customers rushed to buy tablets and smart televisions before a summer of sporting events. Group sales were £3.29 billion.
"I think the business is in a good position for the remainder of the year," Dixons chief executive Sebastian James said, adding that trading since the period had improved across the group, helped in particular by the launch of Windows 8.
In the UK and Ireland, where this month rival Comet collapsed into administration, it swung to a first-half profit of £5.6 million from a £6 million loss last year.
The demise of Comet, which had a 6 per cent UK market share, will represent a long-term benefit to Dixons, it said, although closing down sales at Comet stores could disrupt the market in this year's key Christmas trading period.
Dixons said like-for-like sales in Northern Europe grew 11 per cent led by market share gains for its Elkjop business in the Nordic countries.
Southern Europe sales declined 9 per cent with tough trading at UniEuro in Italy and Kotsovolos in Greece, as well as crowded competition in Turkey slowing growth.
The group said it had also launched an improvement plan at its loss-making PIXmania unit and wrote down the goodwill of the business with a charge of £45.2 million.