Currys.digital to close shops over next five years

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The Independent Online

Currys and PC World owner DSG International today said it would shrink the size of its Currys.digital estate in a bid to revive the business.

The group said it will not renew leases on around 77 of the chain's 177 stores when they expire during the next four to five years. It also unveiled plans to remove £50 million of costs during this financial year.

DSG has been one of the major casualties of the consumer slowdown in recent months, and has issued two profits warnings this year.

DSG said its £50 million cost-cutting programme will seek to remove "duplication" as well as create "efficient structures" at the group's head office in Hertfordshire, which employs 1,600 people.

Savings will also be targeted in its supply chain and stock management operations.

DSG operates more than 700 stores in the UK, 80 per cent of which are Currys and Currys.digital, and more than 500 other outlets across Europe.

The group said of its UK operation: "While the majority of the 177 Currys.digital stores make a positive contribution to the group there are up to 100 stores in attractive catchments that most likely will be the focus for future trading.

"The remaining stores will be closed as their leases expire."

The average high street lease has 4-5 years to run to expiry, it added.

Chief executive John Browett said the company had not kept pace with core customer needs, particularly in the UK.

He pledged to enhance product ranges, carry out more staff training and deliver an "improved customer experience".

In a trading update, the group unveiled a 1 per cent rise in like-for-like sales growth during the 53 weeks to May 3. But they slid 1 per cent during the 29 weeks to May 3.

Its PC World UK computing arm was among the worst performers during the 53-week period, down 6 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Sales were particularly badly hit over the Christmas period, at 10 per cent lower.

Mr Browett added: "There is much to do to simplify the business which will ultimately improve the customer offer, make the group a better place to work and deliver value to our shareholders."

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