Dixons Group has reported strong first-half results based on the retail giant weathering the Christmas storm and the success of its internet service offering, Freeserve.
The high street retailer saw profit climb five per cent to #80.9 million with turnover up 11 per cent to #1.426 million. The Christmas period saw a solid performance, with like-for-like sales increasing by three per cent. The statement also revealed that the group opened 78 stores, creating 2,000 jobs. A further 2,000 jobs are forecast for 1999.
The number of Freeserve subscribers is nudging one million and the operation is expected to break even by the autumn.
Sir Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons Group, said: 'Sales of PCs and related products, games and mobile phones were strong. In a highly competitive market, gross margins were slightly lower than in the same period last year.'
The results breakdown revealed that although identical sales edged up one per cent and PC World up three per cent, Currys stores slipped seven per cent. The Currys blip did not prevent shares climbing to a high of 1,058.5p.
Kingfisher's trading statement for the Christmas period revealed another struggler - Comet. Like-for-like sales fell 0.9 per cent despite the group's like-for-like sales climbing 3.2 per cent.
Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy, chief executive of Kingfisher, said: 'When we reported our third-quarter sales figures, we said sales growth was slowing and we expected Christmas trading to be competitive. In the event, customers were careful with their money.'
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