Tablet craze helps Argos parent to hike forecast

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Argos owner Home Retail Group hiked its profit expectations yesterday after demand for consumer electronics such as tablet computers aided the catalogue chain’s recovery.

Despite weaker homewares trading, sales at Argos jumped 4.3 per cent to £501 million in the eight weeks to 2 March.

Stablemate Homebase suffered a further sales fall, down 2.8 per cent to £191m, but, with margins improving, the parent company said it now expects to make £90m in full-year profits, about £6m ahead of City expectations.

Home retail chief executive Terry Duddy said: “Against a backdrop of subdued consumer spending for the new financial year, we will continue to invest and are focused on delivery of the transformation plan to reinvent Argos as a digital retail leader and in the Homebase proposition.”

The group hopes to grow Argos’ turnover from this year’s £3.9 billion to £4.5bn in 2018 in an “ambitious but achievable” overhaul after a period of declining sales.

It announced plans in October to scale back circulation of its Argos catalogue and revitalise the business through its digital presence, with its 700-plus stores given internet access.

Internet sales now account for 43 per cent of Argos’ total revenues, up from 40 per cent a year ago.