Dixons plans computer push into Europe as demand weakens at home

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The Independent Online

Dixons signalled a major push overseas yesterday in an attempt to shift attention away from a weakening UK market.

Dixons signalled a major push overseas yesterday in an attempt to shift attention away from a weakening UK market.

The electricals group will focus on expanding its PC City estate in France from seven to 100 stores over the next four to five years. It will also take the computer superstore, which has outlets in Spain, Italy and Sweden, into Portugal, and open two electricals stores in Poland.

The company is upping its capital expenditure to £170m this year from £150m last year but would not spell out how much it intended to spend on the French roll-out. It will also look to acquire a business-to-business computer retailer.

John Clare, the chief executive, said the group's immediate focus would be on "more growth in Europe through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions". This month it announced plans to acquire Russia's biggest electricals retailer, Eldorado, although the £1bn deal will be phased over several years. Dixons' focus on France comes after it decided to accelerate its Spanish opening programme for PC City last year. Although the computer superstore chain is based on its PC World estate in the UK, it cannot use the PC World brand in Europe because the rights to the name belong to a US magazine of the same name.

The first French PC City store opened in 2001 and all seven make a positive profit contribution to central costs. The pace of the roll-out, which is due to start with a flagship store on Paris's key shopping street Boulevard St German, will depend on how quickly it can find sites.

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