27 June 2024

AI phones and 85-inch TVs among sought-after tech, Currys reveals

27 June 2024

Artificial intelligence-powered phones and laptops, 85-inch TVs and drones are flying off the shelves, Currys has said, as it branded AI the “most exciting” product innovation since the tablet.

The electricals retailer highlighted the bestsellers after reporting weaker demand for its electronics and appliances over the past year.

Chief executive Alex Baldock said: “Large-screen TVs – over 85 inches – is the fastest-growing segment for us at the moment.

“Gaming is on fire, and AI-enabled gaming PCs are going really well.

“Lots of people thought the camera was in decline – well, action cameras and drones have contradicted that.”

Sales of air fryers increased by 49% last year and fivefold compared with two years earlier, Mr Baldock revealed, as more consumers are drawn to energy-efficient appliances and healthy eating.

We expect AI-powered products, particularly computers and mobile, to be the single most exciting new product cycle innovation since the tablet in 2010

“Looking forward, we expect AI-powered products, particularly computers and mobile, to be the single most exciting new product cycle innovation since the tablet in 2010,” he said.

Consumers are already waking up to what AI-powered devices can do for them, and we’re expecting to benefit from that.”

He pointed to some “promising early signs” of that sentiment, with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S24 among the strong sellers.

People are drawn to AI products for features such as enhanced photography, studio quality for video conferencing, stronger battery life and instantaneous translation, he added.

Currys also revealed it is exploring opportunities to utilise AI to improve its own business, to save time and money.

It said it has identified more than 60 ways it could be potentially be harnessed, particularly for its returns and repair work.

Meanwhile, the retailer hailed a return to an annual profit after shedding business costs, and revealed it saw more customers turn to credit to fund their tech purchases.

It reported a pre-tax profit of £28 million, a significant improvement from the £462 million loss reported the year before.

The company, which has 719 stores around the world, said it has saved hundreds of millions of pounds over the past few years by trimming costs across its UK and Ireland operations.

It has also focused on improving the performance of its second biggest market in Nordic countries including Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

But Currys reported slower sales compared with the previous year as consumers continued to rein in budgets as they felt the bite from higher living costs.

It reported revenues of £8.5 billion in the year to April 27, down 2% at constant currency from the previous year.

Phones and mobile services sold well but demand for domestic appliances weakened and electronics and computer sales fell more steeply.

The retailer said the use of credit climbed in the UK and Ireland to make up a fifth of purchases.

Currys offers buy now, pay later credit plans for shoppers, and makes money from interest payments if consumers do not pay back in full within an agreed timeframe.

Can you get a better TV deal? (Alamy/PA)

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