Dixons narrows group losses


British electricals retailer Dixons reported a narrower first-half loss, helped by its businesses in northern Europe, and said it would benefit from the demise of rival Comet in Britain.

The owner of the Currys and PC World chains also said yesterday its business in Ireland and Britain had made a half-year profit for the first time in five years.

Chief executive Sebastian James said trading since its first half ended in mid-October had improved across the group helped, in particular, by the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Group sales at stores open more than a year rose 3 per cent, led by a strong first quarter when shoppers bought tablets and smart TVs before a summer of sporting events. The digital switchover in Ireland also made a positive contribution.

That helped Dixons post a first-half profit of £5.6 million in Ireland and Britain, having made a loss of £6 million a year ago.

With market share gains elsewhere in northern Europe partly offseting tough southern European markets, the group made an underlying pretax loss of £22.2 million in the 24 weeks to October 13th, compared with expectations for a similar loss to the £25.3 million made in the first half of its year.

In other corporate news, Kingfisher, Europe’s biggest home improvements retailer, said uncertainty over the French government’s budget plans had knocked consumer confidence in its largest market, as it posted a 6 per cent drop in quarterly profit.

The group, which runs market leader BQ in Ireland and Britain and trades as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and elsewhere, said it was also difficult to see when trading conditions might improve in the UK, making planning difficult.

“The hardest thing at the moment is trying to call the outlook for 2013, which is just frankly opaque,” chief executive Ian Cheshire told reporters.– (Reuters)