Argos sees digital and mobile growth amid rival takeover bids from Sainsbury's & Steinhoff

Argos owner Home Retail Group has reported a 13 per cent rise in internet sales and a 15 per cent uplift in mobile sales as it beging to halt its sales decline amid the back drop of rival takeover bids from Sainsbury's and Steinhoff International.

Sales at Argos fell 1.1 per cent in the eight weeks to 27 February, compared with a 2.2 per cent decline in the 18 weeks to 2 January.

The owner of Argos and Homebase said internet sales now account for 51 per cent of Argos’ total sales, while mobile commerce now represents 28 per cent of total Argos sales, up from 25 per cent in the prior year.

Home Retail Group’s chief executive John Walden said it had been an “eventful” year during which the company completed the sale of its Homebase business and the continued battle for Argos from both Sainsbury’s and South African furniture retailer Steinhoff.

“I am pleased with the continued improvement in Argos’ sales performance in the period, together with the continued progress in the Argos Transformation Plan to become a digital retail leader,” he said.

“In October we introduced FastTrack - market-leading propositions for sameday home delivery and store collection. Since its introduction, customer awareness of FastTrack has continued to grow and its operations are improving, with both on-time delivery rates and customer satisfaction now at leading levels. Along with FastTrack, the combination of our now proven digital concession model, together with improvements in digital experiences have driven increases in both digital sales and digital participation.”

Sainsbury's made an unsuccessful takeover bid valued at £1.35bn for Home Retail Group last November in an effort to "create a food and non-food retailer of choice for customers", when it was gatecrashed by a bid from rival Steinhoff priced at £1.42bn. Sainsbury’s had been granted an extension until 18 March and confirmed that it would make a potential hostile bid, according to City AM.

The group added that it expects that profit before tax will come in line with expectations at £93m.

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