Homebase sales slump

Published:  20 June, 2012

Milton Keynes: Homebase saw sales slump by 8.3 per cent in the three months to 2 June according to results from owner, Home Retail Group.

Poor weather affected sales of seasonal products, which account for around 40% of sales in the 341-strong business, which plunged by around 15% after the wet start to the summer.

Home Retail said it continued to plan cautiously for the year ahead despite the overall improvement in its business driven by Argos. Although the rainy Jubilee bank holiday weekend failed to give the group a noticeable sales lift, Home Retail chief executive Terry Duddy said there were already signs of some consumer cheer ahead of the Olympics.

"One of the things that may be coming through here is a bit of a feelgood factor as far as consumers are concerned - people are getting out there and continuing to enjoy themselves," he said. Gazebos sold well over the wet Jubilee as Britons looked for cover from the rain, while Union Jack items such as deckchairs were also in demand.

The dismal weather in April caused 80% of the first quarter sales declines at Homebase, according to Home Retail bosses, but they claimed the chain outperformed competitors in a dire market. Kingfisher-owned rival DIY chain B&Q recently unveiled a 12% slide in sales due to poor demand for outdoor products and building materials.

Mr Duddy said they were "victims" of the weather, with Homebase heavily weighted towards garden products. The group shut two Argos stores in the first quarter, leaving it with 746. Home Retail plans to close 10 stores this year, but continues to resist calls for widespread closures, claiming that they support its presence online and that only seven were loss-making.

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