News roundup—15th January 2009

News roundup—15th January 2009

N Brown Group, the parent company of JD Williams,
Simply Be and Fashion World reported a like-for-like
rise in group revenue of 8.8 per cent in the 19 weeks to 10th
January. Online sales now account for 35 per cent of total
sales, having grown 34 per cent compared with last year.
However, some of the growth in sales was in expense of gross
margin which fell 1.5 percentage points. Despite the current
economic environment, the group said it was continuing with its
planned international expansion. It will go ahead with the
February launch of Simply Be in Germany as well as the creation
of English-language sites in other European markets.

DSGi, the parent company of Dixons and PC
World and Home Retail Group, the owner of
Argos and Homebase both released Christmas
trading statements showing a sales decline. In the 18 weeks to
3rd January 2009 Argos was down 3.6 per cent whilst Homebase saw
sales slide 3.8 per cent during the period. Like-for-like
figures were worse-down 7.5 per cent at Argos and 10.2 per cent
at Homebase. Like-for-like sales at DSG fell 10 per cent in the
12 weeks to 10th January, “compared with a 1 percent fall
over the festive season last year” notes the Telegraph.

Remaining resilient in a tough environment, Mothercare
issued an upbeat trading update for the 13 weeks ending 9th
January. The strongest growth was experienced in international
sales which rose 49.1 per cent in the third quarter and 45.7
per cent during the year to date. The retailer’s catalogue and
online shopping division did well too, posting a sales rise of
15.6 per cent in the third quarter. Total group sales were up 4.2
per cent in the period. In the UK like-for-like sales were
marginally up (1.1 per cent) but total UK sales were down 1.8
per cent “due to planned reduction in space” said a
company statement.

More financial results, this time from automotive accessories
retailer Halfords. Despite showing a decline in sales,
Halfords managed to avoid a drop in profitability writes In contrast to N Brown, Halfords
saw gross margin increase by 200 basis points during the 13
weeks to 26th December. It attributes this to shifting focus to
higher-margin product categories, such as fitting parts and
selling add-on accessories.

And finally… The Independent’s Brian Viner waxes lyrical
about the Marshalls Kitchen Garden Catalogue.


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