Argos closes 75 stores as new boss announces digital makeover

 

The Argos catalogue is to get a digital makeover in an attempt by the struggling high street chain to reverse two years of falling sales.

It will launch a new digital catalogue by Christmas while the circulation of the print version will be cut as part of an internet push that will also see at least 75 stores closed or relocated over the next five years.

Parent company Home Retail Group hopes to grow Argos sales from £3.9 billion to £4.5 billion a year in 2018 in an "ambitious but achievable" overhaul that comes after a period of declining sales.

Argos boss John Walden, who was appointed earlier this year to revitalise the business, said it was unlikely the hard-copy catalogue would be axed altogether, with around 85% of customers having seen it before they buy.

But he admitted the book, which was first launched in 1973, may decline "precipitously" as sales shift online.

The group is also resisting pressure for widespread shop closures, saying it would keep stores "at the centre of what we do".

It stressed that having a "strong local presence" remained important.

The news comes after a six-month review of Argos to revive the business.

In half-year results also announced today, Home Retail said underlying earnings at Argos were 3% down at £3.3 million although it saw a return to like-for-like sales growth, up 0.6% in the six months to September 1.

Home Retail wants to broaden the appeal of its Argos chain to a wider customer base, but keep the focus on families.

It plans to trim its 739-strong store estate and move shops onto shorter leases to be able to relocate as part of a plan to use stores as pick-up points for online orders.

Stores will be kitted out with internet access and Wi-Fi, with a fast-track collection service and customer service for orders.

The group will also focus on fewer and "more powerful" brands, such as children's toy range Chad Valley and Habitat - the homewares chain Home Retail bought last year.

Argos will begin trials in January to determine the future format and numbers of the catalogue, testing a smaller version that directs customers online for the latest prices and the full range.

The group prints between 16 and 17 million copies of the catalogue twice a year, which are collected by customers in store.

It has already reduced catalogue numbers by around 18% over the past two years.

There was a mixed response from analysts, with Philip Dorgan at Panmure Gordon saying the revamp was no "magic bullet".

Analysts at Singer Capital Markets said they believe "a more radical shake-up is needed", but added: "Today's news on future strategy is positive, given that management have finally acknowledged change is required to evolve the Argos model and concept."

Home Retail shares rose 5% as interim results came in at the top end of City expectations, despite group-wide underlying pre-tax profits falling 37% to £18 million.

But trading was tough for its 340-strong DIY and gardening chain Homebase, which saw half-year like-for-like sales fall 6.2% after being hit by the wash-out summer weather.

Underlying earnings at Homebase fell 18% to £24.5 million.

PA

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little