Ex-Comet owner Darty continues to feel the consumer squeeze

Darty have vowed to eliminate losses at its non-core operations. Picture: PA
Darty have vowed to eliminate losses at its non-core operations. Picture: PA
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ELECTRICALS retailer Darty, which sold the collapsed Comet chain for £2 in February, has pledged to eliminate losses at its non-core operations after falling into the red during the first half.

The group, formerly called Kesa, agreed to sell its Italian business last month and is now turning its attention to other areas after it posted an adjusted pre-tax loss of €10.8 million (£8.7m) for the six months to 31 October, compared with a €12.1m profit a year earlier.

Alan Parker, the former Whitbread chief executive who became Darty chairman in September, said: “We will strengthen our position in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and drive greater efficiency at reduced cost across the group.

“We will deliver a step change in performance, and eliminate the losses in our non-core markets of Italy, Spain, Czech Republic and Slovakia.”

Revenues in Darty’s home market of France, where it has 231 stores, fell 3.9 per cent to €1.3 billion and retail profits slumped 43.9 per cent to €24.4m.

Parker added: “Current market conditions remain challenging and have been deteriorating in recent months, but we have taken short-term actions and continue to plan prudently.”

Freddie George, retail analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: “We see the disposal of the Italian business announced in November as a major step in the right direction to creating longer-term shareholder value, but to become more positive on the shares, we need to see a stabilisation in the profitability of the core French operations.”

Darty has no presence in the UK since selling Comet, which went into administration last month. The group paid private equity firm OpCapita £50m to take the chain off its hands.