Currys sees slower sales in run-up to Christmas
Currys has warned there has been a slowdown in sales at its stores in the run-up to Christmas.
Bosses added that the emergence of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus has left the future looking uncertain amid further restrictions.
The comments came as the company revealed that sales in the UK and Ireland fell 4% to £2.5 billion for the six months to the end of October compared with the same period a year ago.
However, underlying profits in the UK and Ireland rose from £25 million to £33 million following cost-cutting across the business.
Our market has been softer over recent weeks, and we may face into further headwinds from Omicron and associated restrictions, but the stronger business we’ve built can ride out both the industry-wide disruption to supply chains and bumpy demand
Chief executive Alex Baldock said: “Our market has been softer over recent weeks, and we may face into further headwinds from Omicron and associated restrictions, but the stronger business we’ve built can ride out both the industry-wide disruption to supply chains and bumpy demand.”
At a group level, including its international businesses in Greece and the Nordic region, sales were down 2% to £4.8 billion, with pre-tax profits up 6.7% to £48 million.
Despite concerns over the future, the company said it would spend £75 million buying up shares from January and would also pay out a 1p-a-share dividend to shareholders.
Electricals proved particularly popular for customers, with sales still 21% ahead of pre-pandemic levels, although they fell 1% in the past six months compared with a year earlier as pent-up demand cooled.
Omnichannel sales were also strong, with customers opting to shop online before completing purchases in stores, with more than 60% of UK customers shopping that way.
But pressure has come from supply chains, with Currys saying it has seen challenging conditions.
Mr Baldock said: “Since the start of the Covid pandemic in early 2020 there has been a shortage of high-demand tech products or products where manufacturing has been limited due to pandemic restrictions.
“In the last few months, these problems have been exacerbated by well-documented issues such as oceanic freight inflation, a shortage of HGV drivers, 7.5 tonne van drivers and warehouse operatives as well as Brexit-related teething problems with getting stock into our Irish business.”
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox