Argos shuffles management at difficult time for the firm

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Argos, the catalogue specialist owned by Home Retail Group, has been forced to reshuffle its top management team for the second time in just over a month.

John Douglass, the director of operations at Argos, is to retire and will hand over the reins to Stephen Carson, a senior director at the DIY chain Homebase, which is also owned by Home Retail.

It is understood that Mr Carson will transfer to Argos in September and will then become its operations director a few months later when Mr Douglass leaves.

The change follows Home Retail announcing on 20 April that Sara Weller, the managing director of Argos, was stepping down for health reasons. Terry Duddy, the chief executive of Home Retail, said he would take over the running of Argos until a replacement is found for Ms Weller, who had been in the role for nearly seven years.

The reshuffle comes at a difficult time for Argos. For the year to 26 February, the catalogue retailer's operating profit tumbled by 18 per cent to £219m. Its sales fell by 3.5 per cent to £4.12bn, while they slumped by 5.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

While the 751-store retailer denied it was losing market share, it faced increased competition from the big supermarkets, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's, over the period.

However, online sales have continued to power ahead and Argos said multi-channel sales came in a £1.9bn last year, representing 46 per cent of the chain's total revenues.

Argos will launch a home shopping channel on Sky next month, as a "low-cost, low-risk" way to increase revenues. Homebase, its DIY retail chain, fared better and grew operating profit to £47.6m, from £41.2m.