Home Retail Group has announced its results for the 52 weeks to 1st March 2014.
The group reported good performances at both Argos and Homebase, with both businesses delivering positive like-for-like sales growth throughout the year.
Sales were up 3% at £5,663m, while cash gross margin was up 2% to £2,034m. Year-end cash balance stood at £331m.
Operating and distribution costs went up £13m to £1,921m as a result of ongoing investment in strategic initiatives across both Argos and Homebase.
Argos saw increased internet penetration to 44% of total sales, including mobile commerce, which grew 89% to account for 18% of total sales, bolstered by the launch of improved smartphone and tablet apps. A ‘hub & spoke’ distribution model was trialled in 49 stores, and six digital concept stores were also trialled.
Homebase saw a further 12 store refits, launched a next-day delivery proposition, and grew multi-channel sales by 53%. A reported profit before tax of £71.2m was announced.
John Coombe, chairman of Home Retail Group, comments: “The group has delivered a good financial performance in the year and it has maintained its strong financial position with a year-end cash balance of £331m. The board remains mindful of both the investment needs of the group and the importance of the dividend to our shareholders and, after careful consideration, it is recommending a final dividend of 2.3 pence and thus a full-year dividend of 3.3 pence. This represents a 10% increase against the previous year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Terry Duddy who, over the last 15 years, the last seven as chief executive of Home Retail Group, has contributed so much to the group. We wish Terry every success for the future. I would also like to welcome John Walden, who has been running Argos for the last two years, to the board as our new chief executive.”
John Walden adds: “The group has delivered a good performance in what remained a challenging market. Both retail businesses recorded positive like-for-like sales for all four reporting periods, resulting in 27% growth in group benchmark profit before tax. We also made good progress with our strategic plans in both businesses, which will become increasingly important in a competitive retail environment where shopping behaviours are changing rapidly.”