THE owner of PC World and Currys is keeping up the pressure on its rivals after seeing a further improvement in sales figures at its UK and Ireland business.
Dixons Retail Group, which has benefited from the challenges faced by competitors Comet and Argos, said underlying revenues were 7% higher in the region for the 12 weeks to July 21.
While August has proven to be quieter across some of its markets, it said the launch of the Windows 8 operating system and new products in the run-up to Christmas should benefit the business.
Shares have increased by two-thirds since the start of 2012 after a sales turnaround earlier this year, boosted by strong demand for iPads and Kindle devices and the digital TV switchover in the south.
The robust UK & Ireland performance has helped limit the impact of the eurozone crisis on its southern European arm, with wider group underlying sales 5% higher in the quarter. Sales in northern Europe jumped by 13%. Seymour Pierce stockbrokers upgraded its rating on the stock to buy yesterday and said it was reassured by the continued momentum in UK trading.
Analyst Kate Calvert added: “Like John Lewis, Dixons has benefited from market consolidation in the UK with the change of ownership certainly weakening Comet’s performance further and we expect this benefit to continue.”
The figures represent a strong start at the helm for chief executive Sebastian James, who took over when respected boss John Browett joined Apple.
James said: “While it is early in our financial year, I am encouraged by the start we have made across the group.
“We have had a real boost from a busy summer of events in the UK and our northern European operations continue to go from strength to strength.”
As well as improving its ranges and service standards, the company has gained from the woes of Comet, whose owner Darty sold it to private equity firm OpCapita for £2, while BestBuy UK also threw in the towel by closing its 10 large out of town stores. Yesterday’s 5% growth figure was better than the 4% predicted by many analysts.
Panmure Gordon stockbrokers analyst Philip Dorgan said: “Dixons operates in a tough space, but we expect it to continue to be the strongest multi-channel operator.”
Dixons has more than 600 stores in the UK and Ireland as well as outlets across Europe.”