Duddy signs off as Home Retail raises expectations

Terry Duddy's 15 years at the helm of HRG ends positively. Picture: Rob McDougall
Terry Duddy's 15 years at the helm of HRG ends positively. Picture: Rob McDougall
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TERRY Duddy marked the end of his 15-year stint at the helm of Home Retail Group today by predicting annual results would come in ahead of City hopes.

The firm behind catalogue store Argos and home improvements retailer Homebase said both chains enjoyed better-than-expected sales during the final eight weeks of its financial year, prompting the second earnings upgrade since January.

Duddy, who is succeeded by former Argos boss John Walden today, said the firm was on track to deliver a pre-tax profit “slightly ahead” of the top end of current market forecasts, which range from £107 million to £111m. In January, Home Retail guided towards £109m.

For the year to 1 March, total sales at Argos rose 3 per cent to £4 billion. Like-for-like sales grew 5.2 per cent in the final eight weeks, lifted by demand for televisions and video games.

Homebase saw annual sales grow 4.1 per cent to £1.5bn, helped by big-ticket items such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Duddy said: “It has been a very exciting time leading the group over the last 15 years.

“Digital technology, together with changes in consumer behaviour, have fundamentally changed the face of retailing in recent times.”

In response to the growing popularity of online shopping, Argos said in 2012 that it was planning to close or relocate at least 75 stores within five years. Sales over the internet account for almost half of total takings at Argos, which has 734 stores.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The group’s chief executive is leaving on a high. Online sales at Argos are on an upward trajectory, while Homebase appears to be another beneficiary of the government’s Help to Buy scheme and its revival of the UK housing market.”