Argos sales resilient; new digital showroom for Habitat

Supermarket group Sainsbury’s, owners of furniture brand Habitat and catalogue retailer Argos, has reported a growth in overall sales for the first half of the year.

According to its Interim Results for the 28 weeks ended 16 September 2023, total sales rose 3.5% to £16.9bn from £16.4bn against the same period last year. Pre-tax profit resulted at £275m, down 27% from £376m.

General Merchandise sales up 1.1% to £2.9bn despite ‘tough weather comparatives over the summer (up 2.5% excluding the impact of the closure of Argos in the Republic of Ireland)’.

Argos profitability has improved in recent years as it has lowered the fixed cost base, while improving its product range and expanding the number of points where customers can collect products. Lower fixed costs helped reduce the impact in the half of significantly lower seasonal sales during a colder and wetter Summer.

“Argos sales were resilient, with sales up 3.3% excluding the impact of closing Argos in the Republic of Ireland, driven by continuing market share gains, strong consumer electronics sales and activity supporting Argos’s 50th birthday,” the group said.

Commenting on its Habitat brand, the group added: “To better serve the increasing number of online customers, Habitat launched a digital showroom, an online service showcasing the product offering and offering advice via video call.”

Simon Roberts, Chief Executive of J Sainsbury plc, said: “We know people are still finding things tough and we’re working harder than ever to reduce our costs, putting the money back into our customers’ pockets through lower prices on the products they buy most often. I’m pleased to say food inflation is coming down and we are passing savings on to customers. We’ve rolled out Nectar Prices to over 6,000 products and the vast majority of customers are now shopping with Nectar, saving over £450 million since April.

“We have extended increased colleague discount and free food during shifts indefinitely and, thanks to the hard work across our entire team, we’re delivering leading customer service and availability. I want to thank all of my colleagues for their fantastic efforts.

“We’re ready to give customers at Sainsbury’s and Argos everything they want to have a brilliant Christmas. We’re helping everyone to treat themselves with fantastic value and more delicious new food than ever before. As we head into this key trading period, we are encouraged by our strong momentum and we remain fully focused on delivering for customers and shareholders.”

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