Currys owner trounces City forecasts with strong sales

DSGi sells one computer and one television every two seconds in UK at Christmas
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The Independent Online

The owner of Currys, DSGi, smashed City expectations for its Christmas trading with electrifying sales of white goods, televisions and laptops over the festive period. John Browett, chief executive of DSGi, the European electricals group, said yesterday: "There has been a recovery in consumer behaviour."

Britain's biggest electricals chain Currys, which has 505 stores, saw its underlying sales increase by 8 per cent for the 12 weeks to 9 January – its first rise since autumn 2007. The group, which also owns PC World, said its full-year pre-tax profits would come in at the top end of City expectations of between £60m and £90m.

Group sales at DSGi, which operates in countries such as Norway, Italy, Greece and Spain, jumped by 8 per cent over the 12 weeks to 9 January – which was streets ahead of City expectations of 3 per cent. The update came on a day of mixed Christmas trading statements from high street players. In the fashion sector, the discount chain Primark continued to power ahead over its latest period, while the womenswear group Alexon again struggled. The car and accessories and cycles retailer Halfords, the chocolate specialist Thorntons and the Argos-owner Home Retail Group all unveiled positive news on profits, while the childrenswear chain Mothercare reported strong third-quarter sales.

Mr Browett said the impact of VAT returning to 17.5 per cent in the UK had "not been dramatic" and pointed out that the recovery at the electricals chain had started around the time of the August bank holiday.

In the UK, including its PC World chain, DSGi sold a computer and television every two seconds over the Christmas period. Mr Browett said the work DSGi had done to improve customer service, refurbish stores, save on costs, and open its new Currys megastores and the combined two-in-one shops involving PC World were "beginning to bear fruit".

The retailer's eight Megastores each delivered sales of more than one million in the first week of the Christmas sale. But underlying sales at its UK computing division, which includes PC World, fell 8 per cent, dragged down by its business-to-business services division. However, retail sales at PC World were flat, which represents a significant improvement on last year.

Mr Browett said of Britain's economy: "We don't subscribe to the double-dip theory but we think it will be a long path out of this."

8 per cent

First-quarter rise in group sales at DSGi, compared with expectations of 3 per cent.