Terry Duddy, chief executive of Home Retail Group, has signed off his last set of results to the City with an impressive jump in sales across both Argos and Homebase as he suggested the economic recovery was starting to be felt in his stores.
The boss, who steps down after 15 years at the helm, added that it was the first time sales have risen across both businesses all year since 2006.
Sales for the eight weeks to March 1 jumped 5.2 per cent at Argos to £526 million, thanks to strong sales in electricals, with shoppers keen to snap up the latest PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
Full-year like-for-like sales jumped 3.3 per cent and shares soared 4.5 per cent to 215.9p as he said profits will beat expectations.
Duddy, himself the proud owner of a PS4, said 50 per cent of sales are now electricals and suggested video games have now replaced the market which DVDs sat in 10 years earlier.
New format stores have been rolled out in some stores, but Duddy said he had not seen a sales boost from the new stores.
He said: “It’s not about sales increases, it’s about creating a better customer experience and the cost to refurbish the stores with the new concepts is the same as refurbishing before.”
Online sales continue to grow fastest, particularly through smartphones and tablets, with nearly one-in-five purchases made through one of the devices.
Over at Homebase, sales rose 6.9 per cent to £203 million during the eight week period, with a 2.4 per cent rise over the entire year.
Duddy said: “Some retailers suggest it takes six months to feel the effects of a boost in the housing market. We don’t necessarily share that view, but we have seen a significant boost in kitchen sales. This is more likely as customers feel more secure in their jobs now than previously, rather than they are buying new houses.”
He added that the good weather over the summer played a big part in the impressive numbers, and he said the recent warm winter weather is also helping.
Duddy refused to speculate on what the future holds for him, but said he has no immediate plans to retire.