Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group has denied that it will be closing more stores as sales at both chains dive.
Argos suffered a drop in like-for-like sales of 8.5% in the eight weeks to February 25, with total sales down 7.7% to £480m. Homebase saw like-for-like revenues fall by 6.5%, and total sales down 6.2% to £195m.
Argos opened one new store but closed 12 during the eight weeks as leases expired. A further 35 leases are up for renewal in the next year, but the group denied City speculation that there would be wholesale closures. However, it says that profits are likely to fall.
Chief executive Terry Duddy said: “On balance we will be net closing stores over the next couple of years, but whether it’s five or 10 a year will be impossible to say.”
The group said that items such as kettles and toasters had returned to growth in the period, while internet sales were now 40% of the chain’s sales. However, sales of audio, video games and television had suffered particularly badly.
Homebase’s poor performance was largely down to falling demand for big-ticket items such as kitchens, bathrooms and furniture.