Home Retail Group publishes trading statement covering the 13 weeks from 28 February to 28 May 2016

Milton Keynes, UK, 2016-Jun-09 — /EPR Retail News/ — Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, today publishes a trading statement covering the 13 weeks from 28 February to 28 May 2016.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group, commented:

“I am pleased with our performance in the first quarter. Argos delivered good total sales growth together with positive like-for-like growth, representing its strongest sales growth performance in eight quarters.  This was achieved against the challenging backdrop of constrained seasonal product sales due to poor weather, on top of a deflationary pricing environment.

“Many of the digital capabilities we are building, as we pursue the Transformation Plan to reinvent Argos as a digital retail leader, are positively impacting our business. Internet sales grew 16% during the quarter, which is our strongest quarterly digital sales growth for over three years.  Digital sales accounted for almost 50% of total Argos sales in the quarter, including mobile commerce which now represents almost 30% of sales.  Argos’ customer experiences overall improved in the quarter, aided by Fast Track, a market-leading national proposition for both same-day home delivery and store collection.  Fast Track continues to build momentum and is achieving leading levels of customer satisfaction.

“Finally, we remain on track to complete the proposed transaction with Sainsbury’s in the third quarter of this calendar year.  Given the natural distraction that a transaction such as this can be for our colleagues, on top of the recent sale of Homebase, I am particularly pleased with our performance in the quarter.”

Q1
(13 weeks to
28 May 2016)
Argos
Sales £868m
Like-for-like sales change 0.1%
Net space sales change 2.5%
Total sales change 2.6%
Gross margin movement  Down c.100bps

Total sales at Argos grew by 2.6% to £868m.  Net new space contributed 2.5%, mainly as a result of store openings in the previous financial year.  There were two closures of digital concessions within Homebase stores in the quarter, reducing the store estate to 843.  Like-for-like sales increased by 0.1% in the quarter, however the cannibalisation impact from the new space added in the previous financial year was around 1% and therefore Argos’ underlying like-for-like sales increased by approximately 1%.

Sales grew in both electrical and non-electrical product categories during the quarter, with the growth in electricals principally attributable to the performance of TVs, mobiles, computers and tablets, partially offset by a sales decline in white goods.  The growth in sales of non-electrical products was largely driven by furniture and general sports, partially offset by weaker sales of seasonal products.

Internet sales grew by 16% in the quarter and represented 49% of total Argos sales, up from 44% for the same quarter last year.  Within this, mobile commerce sales grew by 17% to represent 29% of total Argos sales, up from 25% in the same quarter last year.

The approximate 100 basis point gross margin decline was principally driven by the anticipated impact of adverse currency and shipping costs and an adverse sales mix impact mainly attributable to the improved performance of margin dilutive electrical products.

Financial Services customer redress

In the course of implementing its new governance and risk management procedures, the Group’s Financial Services division identified that it had erroneously collected excess fees in relation to the late payment of amounts due from certain customers.  The Group took advice on this matter and based upon this advice it booked a charge in its FY16 financial statements.  The Group has subsequently been advised that a more extensive customer redress programme will now be required.  A detailed review exercise will now be undertaken, however a preliminary estimate has been prepared, which indicates that the existing customer redress provision may need to be increased by an amount in the region of £30m.

There will be a conference call for analysts and investors to discuss this statement at 8.30am this morning.  The call can be accessed as a live webcast on the Home Retail Group website www.homeretailgroup.com.  An indexed replay will also be available on the website later in the day.

Disclosure requirements of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Code”)

Under Rule 8.3(a) of the Code, any person who is interested in 1% or more of any class of relevant securities of an offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror (being any offeror other than an offeror in respect of which it has been announced that its offer is, or is likely to be, solely in cash) must make an Opening Position Disclosure following the commencement of the offer period and, if later, following the announcement in which any securities exchange offeror is first identified. An Opening Position Disclosure must contain details of the person’s interests and short positions in, and rights to subscribe for, any relevant securities of each of (i) the offeree company and (ii) any securities exchange offeror(s). An Opening Position Disclosure by a person to whom Rule 8.3(a) applies must be made by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the 10th business day following the commencement of the offer period and, if appropriate, by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the 10th business day following the announcement in which any securities exchange offeror is first identified. Relevant persons who deal in the relevant securities of the offeree company or of a securities exchange offeror prior to the deadline for making an Opening Position Disclosure must instead make a Dealing Disclosure.

Under Rule 8.3(b) of the Code, any person who is, or becomes, interested in 1% or more of any class of relevant securities of the offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror must make a Dealing Disclosure if the person deals in any relevant securities of the offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror. A Dealing Disclosure must contain details of the dealing concerned and of the person’s interests and short positions in, and rights to subscribe for, any relevant securities of each of (i) the offeree company and (ii) any securities exchange offeror, save to the extent that these details have previously been disclosed under Rule 8. A Dealing Disclosure by a person to whom Rule 8.3(b) applies must be made by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the business day following the date of the relevant dealing.

If two or more persons act together pursuant to an agreement or understanding, whether formal or informal, to acquire or control an interest in relevant securities of an offeree company or a securities exchange offeror, they will be deemed to be a single person for the purpose of Rule 8.3.

Opening Position Disclosures must also be made by the offeree company and by any offeror and Dealing Disclosures must also be made by the offeree company, by any offeror and by any persons acting in concert with any of them (see Rules 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4). Details of the offeree and offeror companies in respect of whose relevant securities Opening Position Disclosures and Dealing Disclosures must be made, can be found in the Disclosure Table on the Panel’s website at www.thetakeoverpanel.org.uk, including details of the number of relevant securities in issue, when the offer period commenced and when any offeror was first identified. You should contact the Panel’s Market Surveillance Unit on +44 (0)20 7638 0129 if you are in any doubt as to whether you are required to make an Opening Position Disclosure or a Dealing Disclosure.

Rule 26.1 disclosure

A copy of this announcement will be available on Home Retail Group’s website at www.homeretailgroup.com/investor-centre by no later than 12 noon (London) time on 10 June 2016.

The content of the website referred to in this announcement is not incorporated into and does not form part of this announcement.

Further information
This announcement does not constitute an offer to sell or issue or the solicitation of an offer to buy or acquire securities of Home Retail Group or any of its affiliates in any jurisdiction or an inducement to enter into investment activity.

Information in this announcement is based upon unaudited management accounts.  In addition, certain statements made are forward looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statements.

Forward looking statements typically include words such as “targets”, “plans”, “believes”, “expects”, “aims”, “intends”, “will”, “may”, “anticipates”, “estimates”, “projects” or words or terms of similar substance or the negative thereof.  All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this announcement may be forward looking statements. Except as required by law, Home Retail Group undertakes no obligation publicly to update or revise any forward looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Enquiries:

Analysts and investors (Home Retail Group)
Richard Ashton, Finance Director 01908 600 291
Mark Willis, Director of Investor Relations

Media (RLM Finsbury)
Rollo Head, 020 7251 3801

Home Retail Group rejects Sainsbury’s approach for possible cash and share offer

Milton Keynes, UK, 2016-1-7 — /EPR Retail News/ — The Board of Home Retail Group plc (“Home Retail Group” or the “Company”) notes the announcement by J Sainsbury plc (“Sainsbury’s) and confirms that in November 2015 it received an approach from Sainsbury’s regarding a possible cash and share offer for the Company.

Having reviewed the approach with its advisers, the board of Home Retail Group rejected the approach which undervalued Home Retail Group and its long-term prospects.

In accordance with Rule 2.6(a) of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Code”), Sainsbury’s will have until 5.00pm on 2 February 2016, being 28 days after today’s date (or such later time and / or date as may be agreed by the Takeover Panel in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of the Code), to announce either a firm intention to make an offer for Home Retail Group in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code, or that it does not intend to make an offer, in which case the announcement will be treated as a statement to which Rule 2.8 of the Code applies.

There can be no certainty that a firm offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any firm offer might be made.  The Board will issue a further statement if and when appropriate.  In the meantime, Home Retail Group shareholders are advised to take no action.

Home Retail Group is scheduled to release its latest trading statement on 14 January 2016.

This announcement is being made by Home Retail Group without the prior agreement or approval of Sainsbury’s.

Notes to Editors:

Enquiries

Analysts and investors (Home Retail Group)

Richard Ashton
Finance Director
01908 600291

Mark Willis
Director of Investor Relations

 

BofA Merrill Lynch – Financial Adviser and Corporate Broker

Jonathan Bewes
020 7628 1000

Eamon Brabazon
Geoff Iles

 

Media

Rollo Head
RLM Finsbury
020 7251 3801

 

Important notice related to financial adviser

Merrill Lynch International (“BofA Merrill Lynch”), a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, is acting exclusively for Home Retail Group in connection with the matters set out in this announcement and for no one else and will not be responsible to anyone other than Home Retail Group for providing the protections afforded to its clients or for providing advice in relation to the matters set out in this announcement.

 

Disclosure requirements of the Code

Under Rule 8.3(a) of the Code, any person who is interested in 1% or more of any class of relevant securities of an offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror (being any offeror other than an offeror in respect of which it has been announced that its offer is, or is likely to be, solely in cash) must make an Opening Position Disclosure following the commencement of the offer period and, if later, following the announcement in which any securities exchange offeror is first identified. An Opening Position Disclosure must contain details of the person’s interests and short positions in, and rights to subscribe for, any relevant securities of each of (i) the offeree company and (ii) any securities exchange offeror(s). An Opening Position Disclosure by a person to whom Rule 8.3(a) applies must be made by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the 10th business day following the commencement of the offer period and, if appropriate, by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the 10th business day following the announcement in which any securities exchange offeror is first identified. Relevant persons who deal in the relevant securities of the offeree company or of a securities exchange offeror prior to the deadline for making an Opening Position Disclosure must instead make a Dealing Disclosure.

Under Rule 8.3(b) of the Code, any person who is, or becomes, interested in 1% or more of any class of relevant securities of the offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror must make a Dealing Disclosure if the person deals in any relevant securities of the offeree company or of any securities exchange offeror. A Dealing Disclosure must contain details of the dealing concerned and of the person’s interests and short positions in, and rights to subscribe for, any relevant securities of each of (i) the offeree company and (ii) any securities exchange offeror, save to the extent that these details have previously been disclosed under Rule 8. A Dealing Disclosure by a person to whom Rule 8.3(b) applies must be made by no later than 3.30 pm (London time) on the business day following the date of the relevant dealing.

If two or more persons act together pursuant to an agreement or understanding, whether formal or informal, to acquire or control an interest in relevant securities of an offeree company or a securities exchange offeror, they will be deemed to be a single person for the purpose of Rule 8.3.

Opening Position Disclosures must also be made by the offeree company and by any offeror and Dealing Disclosures must also be made by the offeree company, by any offeror and by any persons acting in concert with any of them (see Rules 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4).

Details of the offeree and offeror companies in respect of whose relevant securities Opening Position Disclosures and Dealing Disclosures must be made, can be found in the Disclosure Table on the Panel’s website at www.thetakeoverpanel.org.uk, including details of the number of relevant securities in issue, when the offer period commenced and when any offeror was first identified. You should contact the Panel’s Market Surveillance Unit on +44 (0)20 7638 0129 if you are in any doubt as to whether you are required to make an Opening Position Disclosure or a Dealing Disclosure.

Relevant securities in issue

In accordance with Rule 2.10 of the Code, Home Retail Group confirms that, as at the close of business on 4 January 2016, it has 813,445,001 ordinary shares of 10 pence each in issue and admitted to trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. The International Securities Identification Number for Home Retail Group’s ordinary shares is GB00B19NKB76.

Home Retail Group has a sponsored Level 1 American Depositary Receipts (“ADR”) programme for which Citibank N.A acts as Depositary. One ADR represents four shares of the Company. The ADRs trade on the over-the-counter market, OTCQX International Premier. The trading symbol for these securities is HMRTY and the ISIN is US43731T1025.

The total number of shares attaching voting rights in the Company is therefore 813,445,001. This figure may be used by shareholders to determine the percentage of issued share capital they hold in the Company.

Rule 26.1 disclosure

In accordance with Rule 26.1 of the Code, a copy of this announcement will be available at www.homeretailgroup.com by no later than 12 noon (London time) on 6 January 2016.

The content of the website referred to in this announcement is not incorporated into and does not form part of this announcement.

Certain statements made are forward looking statements.  Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statement

 

SOURCE: Home Retail Group

Home Retail Group announces its results for the 26 weeks to 29 August 2015

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-10-21 — /EPR Retail News/ — Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, today announces its results for the 26 weeks to 29 August 2015.

Operating highlights

  • Argos Transformation Plan progress:
    • Substantially completed development and testing of new digital propositions – Fast Track Collection and Fast Track Delivery – which launched early in the second half of FY16
    • Opened 86 digital concessions, bringing total digital stores to 148
    • Internet penetration accounted for 45% of total sales including mobile commerce which grew 13% to represent 25% of total sales
  • Homebase Productivity Plan progress:
    • A further 25 store closures completed
    • Infrastructure cost reduction programme accelerated
    • 43% digital sales growth to 10% of total sales

Financial highlights

  • Sales down 2% to £2,629m
  • Cash gross margin down 1% to £973m
  • Operating and distribution costs decreased by £10m to £941m, Homebase costs decreased by £26m, Argos costs increased by £14m
  • Benchmark profit before tax2 increased by £3.2m or 10% to £34.1m, Homebase increased by £6.5m, Argos decreased by £5.6m
  • Basic benchmark earnings per share3 increased by 13% to 3.4p
  • Reported profit before tax increased by 73% to £23.4m; reported basic earnings per share of 2.3p
  • Cash utilisation in the period of £116m with closing net cash of £193m
  • Interim dividend of 1.0p (H1 FY15: 1.0p)

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group, said:

“While Group benchmark profit before tax increased slightly during the first half, performance overall was mixed. Homebase delivered a good first half, with like-for-like sales growth and an improvement in operating profit. It also made good progress with its Productivity Plan and the store closure plan in particular, which helped Homebase to achieve further cost reductions.

“Argos’ first half sales and profit were negatively impacted by declines in both electrical and seasonal product categories. Argos continued to make good progress with its Transformation Plan, delivering strongly against its digital store opening programme. Argos also substantially completed the technology and operational steps necessary to launch ‘Fast Track’ – its new home delivery and store collection propositions. Argos is investing significantly in the launch of Fast Track and although the rate of customer take-up cannot be certain, we are confident that customers will increasingly embrace this market leading service over time.

“We look forward to an improved sales performance for both Argos and the Group in the second half. However, as I have previously stated, trading at Argos during this year’s important Christmas season seems less predictable than usual, as both retailers and customers determine whether to repeat last year’s unusual Black Friday patterns. The combination of this trading uncertainty, an increased level of investment in the launch of Fast Track and the underlying profit reduction from Argos’ challenging first half, mean that at this stage of the financial year we expect the Group’s full-year benchmark profit before tax to be slightly below the bottom end of the current range of market expectations of £115m to £140m.”

1. Benchmark operating profit is defined as operating profit before amortisation of acquisition intangibles, post-employment benefit scheme administration costs, store impairment and onerous lease charges or releases and costs or income associated with store closures and exceptional items.

2. Benchmark profit before tax (benchmark PBT) is defined as profit before amortisation of acquisition intangibles, post-employment benefit scheme administration costs, store impairment and onerous lease charges or releases and costs or income associated with store closures, exceptional items, financing fair value remeasurements, financing impact on post-employment benefit obligations, the discount unwind on non-benchmark items and taxation.

3. Basic benchmark earnings per share (benchmark EPS) is defined as benchmark PBT less taxation attributable to benchmark PBT, divided by the weighted average number of shares in issue (excluding shares held in the Home Retail Group share trust net of vested but unexercised share awards).

There will be a presentation today at 9.30am to analysts and investors at the Auditorium, Merrill Lynch Financial Centre, 2 King Edward Street, London EC1A 1HQ. The presentation can be viewed as a live webcast on the Home Retail Group website www.homeretailgroup.com. The supporting slides and an indexed replay will also be available on the website later in the day.

A Trading Statement, covering the 18 weeks from 30 August 2015 to 2 January 2016, will be published on Thursday 14 January 2016.

Certain statements made in this announcement are forward looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statements.

Contact Info
Home Retail Group
489-499 Avebury
Boulevard
Saxon Gate West
Central Milton Keynes
MK9 2NW

Home Retail Group CEO on Q2 results: Argos improved sales; Homebase performed well across its peak trading season

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-9-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, today updates on the trading of its second financial quarter, covering the 13 weeks to 29 August 2015.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group, commented:

“Argos delivered an improved sales performance in the second quarter. It made good progress with new stores, opening more than 50 digital concessions within Homebase and Sainsbury’s, which have generated encouraging early results. Consistent with our previous guidance, Argos’ sales continued to be adversely impacted by the performance of a number of key electrical product categories as well as weaker overall market conditions in August.

“Homebase performed well across its peak trading season, delivering good like-for-like sales growth in both quarters of the first half, while continuing its progress on both its store closure programme and the Productivity Plan more broadly.

“The outcome for the Group’s full-year generally depends upon the important Christmas trading period at Argos which, this year, seems less predictable than usual due to a less certain promotional environment. Our teams have made solid progress preparing for this period, including substantially completing the technology and operational steps necessary to introduce new store collection and home delivery propositions to our customers. We will be making increased marketing and promotional investments to launch these propositions and we expect customers to increasingly embrace them over time.”

 

Q1
(13 weeks to
30 May
2015)
Q2
(13 weeks to
29 August
2015)
H1
(26 weeks to
29 August
2015)
Argos
Sales £846m £897m £1,743m
Like-for-like sales change (3.9%) (2.8%) (3.4%)
Net space sales change 1.3% 2.4% 1.9%
Total sales change (2.6%) (0.4%) (1.5%)
Gross margin movement  Up c. 50bps Up c. 125bps Up c. 100bps
Homebase
Sales £438m £378m £816m
Like-for-like sales change 5.4% 5.9% 5.6%
Net space sales change (7.0%) (8.7%) (7.8%)
Total sales change (1.6%) (2.8%) (2.2%)
Gross margin movement Down c. 175bps Down c. 75bps Down c. 125bps

 

Argos
Total sales at Argos declined by 0.4% to £897m. Net new space contributed 2.4% with the store portfolio increasing by 52 stores to 840. This increase comprised 44 digital concessions within Homebase and eight digital concessions within Sainsbury’s.

Like-for-like sales declined by 2.8% in the quarter. As anticipated, sales of electrical products continued to decline principally driven by TVs, tablets and white goods. These declines more than offset a good performance in toys.

Internet sales for the quarter represented 46% of total Argos sales, up from 44% for the same period last year. Within this, mobile commerce sales grew by 11% to represent 25% of total Argos sales, up from 22% in the prior year.

The approximate 125 basis point gross margin improvement was principally driven by the anticipated impact of favourable currency and shipping costs, together with the continued timing benefit of a small number of other positive items which are expected to reverse in the second half of the current financial year. These increases were partially offset by an increased level of promotional sales.

Homebase

Total sales at Homebase declined by 2.8% to £378m as a result of the ongoing store closure programme, which resulted in eight store closures in the quarter and which reduced the store portfolio to 271. Closed space reduced sales by 8.7% in the quarter.

Like-for-like sales increased by 5.9% in the quarter with sales growth broadly across all product categories, but particularly in big ticket products. This growth continued to be partially supported by both the trade transfer and the stock clearance sales benefits attributable to the previously announced store closure programme and distribution centre closure.

The approximate 75 basis point gross margin decline was principally driven by the adverse impact of the previously announced stock clearance activity together with an adverse sales mix impact, mainly attributable to the growth in margin dilutive big ticket products. These declines were partially offset by a reduced level of promotional activity together with the anticipated impact of favourable currency and shipping costs.

There will be a conference call for analysts and investors to discuss this statement at 8.00am this morning. The call can be accessed as a live webcast on the Home Retail Group website  www.homeretailgroup.com. An indexed replay will also be available on the website later in the day.

Home Retail Group will announce its half-year results on Wednesday 21 October 2015. A Trading Statement covering the 18 weeks from 30 August 2015 to 2 January 2016 will be announced on Thursday 14 January 2016.

Information in this announcement is based upon unaudited management accounts. In addition, certain statements made are forward looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statements.

Enquiries:

Analysts and investors (Home Retail Group)
Richard Ashton, Finance Director 01908 600 291
Mark Willis, Director of Investor Relations

Media (RLM Finsbury)
Rollo Head, 020 7251 3801

Macmillan Cancer Support announces new partnership with Home Retail Group to raise £3M by March 2017 through fundraising activities and events

Partnership aims to raise £3million for people affected by cancer over two years

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-3-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — Macmillan Cancer Support has today announced a brand new partnership with the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, Home Retail Group, owner of Argos, Homebase and Habitat. The partnership will engage Home Retail Group colleagues and customers across the UK through a range of fundraising activities and events aiming to raise a total of £3million for Macmillan by March 2017.

Macmillan was selected by Home Retail Group colleagues to be their new UK charity partner following a staff vote, with the money raised in the first year of partnership funding vital hours of Macmillan nursing care. The partnership has launched today [Friday 27 March] with a ‘Go Mad Go Green’ fundraising day in offices and branches of Argos, Homebase and Habitat across the country.

Further plans include support of Macmillan’s national fundraising events Night In and World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, as well as bespoke fundraising activity linked to key trading periods for the business such as the Argos Catalogue Launch. Homebase will also involve Macmillan in the launch of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in May this year as part of the partnership.

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says: “We are all absolutely delighted to be launching a new partnership with Home Retail Group today. Our year one fundraising target of £1.5million could pay for over 55,500 Macmillan nursing hours, enabling us to provide a phenomenal amount of dedicated and specialised cancer care. The opportunity presented by our new partnership with Home Retail Group to raise £3million to help the 2.5million people living with cancer in the UK today is one I know will make a great deal of difference to Macmillan’s ambition which is to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.”

Amy Whidburn, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Home Retail Group says: “I’m thrilled that Home Retail Group colleagues have voted Macmillan Cancer Support as our charity of choice over the next two years. Cancer affects so many people so we are determined to raise a substantial amount of money to fund Macmillan nursing hours and to make a real difference to Macmillan’s ambition to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone. I look forward to getting involved and supporting the business and our 47,000 colleagues over the next two years to help us reach our ambitious target for Macmillan.”

To complement the ambitious fundraising programme, Macmillan will also utilise Home Retail Group internal and customer facing communications channels, with a particular focus on the growing number of Argos digital stores, to share vital cancer awareness messages and to signpost those in Argos, Homebase or Habitat stores to Macmillan support services.

Colleagues and stores in the Republic of Ireland will raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.

-ENDS-

For more information please contact:

Melissa Shelley, PR Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support on: 0207 091 2319 / mshelley@macmillan.org.uk

Judith Ineson at Home Retail Group on 0845 120 4365/ media.relations@homeretailgroup.com

Notes to editors

About Macmillan Cancer Support

When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.

That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.

To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk

About Home Retail Group

Home Retail Group is the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer with sales of around £5.7 billion in the financial year to February 2014. We sell products under three distinct and complementary retail brands – Argos, Homebase and Habitat. The Group employs some 47,000 people across the business. For more information visit www.homeretailgroup.com

About the Macmillan Cancer Support & Home Retail Group partnership

Cancer is often the toughest fight many people will face. Home Retail Group and Macmillan Cancer Support are working together to improve access to vital Macmillan nursing hours for everyone affected by cancer, to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

The partnership will engage Home Retail Group colleagues and customers across the UK through a range of fundraising activities and events aiming to raise a total of £3million for Macmillan by March 2017.

Through this partnership, Home Retail Group colleagues and customers will enable Macmillan to deliver the best quality and experience of cancer care, from the point of diagnosis.

###

Macmillan Cancer Support announces new partnership with Home Retail Group to raise £3M by March 2017 through fundraising activities and events

Macmillan Cancer Support announces new partnership with Home Retail Group to raise £3M by March 2017 through fundraising activities and events

Home Retail Group appoints Echo Lu as Managing Director for Homebase

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-3-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — Home Retail Group has announced the appointment of Echo Lu as Managing Director for Homebase, one of the UK’s leading home enhancement retailers. Echo has significant experience in retailing both in the UK and Asia, and will take up her new position on 20th April.

Echo joins Homebase from Tesco where she worked over the past ten years across different markets and a broad range of functions.  Her most recent roles were as Group Business Planning & Insight Director and Property Director for Tesco UK & Ireland, she was also a member of the UK Board. Prior to these roles, Echo held a number of roles in Tesco’s Asian business, including Chief Operating Officer for China, Operations Director, East China, and Commercial Buying for Grocery.

Her career commenced at Bristol-Myers Squibb where she held a number of roles, culminating as HR Director for China. Echo graduated in International Economy & Finance at Fudan University.

John Walden, Home Retail Group Chief Executive, said:

“Echo has significant, broad-based retail experience both in the UK and the rapidly evolving Asian region, and importantly has been an agent for positive change throughout her career.  She is the ideal candidate to lead Homebase and its Productivity Plan, as we improve the store operational standards and customer service, develop stronger customer propositions and accelerate Homebase’s digital capabilities, and realise its potential for greater growth.”

Echo Lu said: “I am delighted to join Home Retail Group and to lead the Homebase business.  Homebase is a strong UK brand with an ambitious plan in the short-term to strengthen its foundations and exciting longer-term growth opportunities.  I look forward to working with John, his executive team, the Homebase leadership team and the 18,000 Homebase colleagues to build a stronger business for the future.”

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes:

Media contacts:
Chris Wermann, Corporate Affairs Director 07718 327 107
Rollo Head, Finsbury  020 7251 3801

Photo available at the Home Retail Group media centre. http://homeretailgroup.pressarea.com/imagelibrary 

Echo Lu: Curriculum Vitae

Tesco:  2004-2014
Group Business Planning & Insight Director
Property Director, UK & Ireland
Chief Operations Officer, China
Operations Director, East China
Chief Executive Officer Development Programme
Human Resources Director, Asia

Bristol-Myers Squibb  1997-2004
Human Resources Director, China
Other Human Resources leadership roles

Education
MS. Industrial Relations & Human Resources – West Virginia University
BA. International Economy & Finance -Fudan University

About Homebase
Homebase is a leading home enhancement retailer with around 60 million transactions a year, selling around 38,000 products for the home and garden. It has 304 large, out-of-town stores throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland and a growing internet offering at www.homebase.co.uk. In the financial year to February 2014, Homebase sales were £1.5 billion and it employed some 18,000 people across the business.

Homebase is part of Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer.

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Home Retail Group appoints Echo Lu as Managing Director for Homebase

Home Retail Group appoints Echo Lu as Managing Director for Homebase

The Irish Cancer Society and Home Retail Group partner to raise €150,000 by March 2017 for Daffodil Centre Nurses and Daffodil Centres throughout Ireland

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-3-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — The Irish Cancer Society has today announced a brand new partnership with the Ireland’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, Home Retail Group, owner of Argos, Homebase and Habitat. The partnership will engage 1,600 Home Retail Group colleagues and customers across Ireland through a range of fundraising activities and events aiming to raise a total of €150,000 by March 2017.

The Irish Cancer Society was selected by Home Retail Group colleagues to be their new Irish charity partner following a staff vote, with the money raised funding the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Centre Nurses and Daffodil Centres throughout Ireland.

The partnership will officially launch in all branches of Argos and Homebase across the country with Daffodil Day on March 27th. Further plans include support of the Irish Cancer Society’s national fundraising events such as the Colour Dash Run, Paint it Pink, Movember, as well as bespoke fundraising activity linked to key trading periods for the business such as the Argos Catalogue Launch.

John McCormack, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Cancer Society says: “We are delighted that Home Retail Group will be supporting and raising money for the Irish Cancer Society and, in particular, our Daffodil Centre Nurses and Daffodil Centres. Daffodil Centres bring cancer information, support and advice to the point of diagnosis and care – the hospital. This is a service not just for the patient, it is for their families and friends and anyone else with a concern or question about cancer. This new partnership with Home Retail Group will enable Daffodil Centre Nurses continue to deliver the care and support to those affected by cancer and help us open additional Daffodil Centres to reach and support even more people in Ireland.”

Andy McClelland, Operations Manager for Argos Ireland says: “I’m thrilled that Argos colleagues in Ireland have voted the Irish Cancer Society as our charity of choice over the next two years. Cancer affects so many people so we are determined to raise a substantial amount of money to fund Daffodil Centres and Daffodil Centre Nurses throughout Ireland and to make a real difference to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone. “

Marcus Mallon, Operations Manager for Homebase Ireland says: “This is a great partnership for us to be involved with and I look forward to getting involved and supporting the business and our combined 1,600 colleagues over the next two years to help us reach our ambitious target for the Irish Cancer Society.”

-ENDS-

For more information please contact:Donna Parsons, Communications Officer, Irish Cancer Society
T: 01 2310 573 E: dparsons@irishcancer.ie

Aoife Sweeney, PR & Media Relations Manager, Argos Republic of Ireland
M: 087 6670534 E: aoife.sweeney@argos.co.uk

Note to Editor:

About Irish Cancer Society
The Irish Cancer Society is Ireland’s national cancer charity. Established in 1963, the Irish Cancer Society provides information, support and care to those with, and affected by, cancer all over Ireland. Our services are professional, confidential and free of charge. We are almost entirely funded through the generosity of the public and receive less than 5% government funding.

About Home Retail Group
Home Retail Group plc, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, was launched in 2006 and comprises three of the UK’s most recognisable retail brands; Argos, Homebase and Habitat.

Our retail brands have more than 100 years of market heritage between them and are well-known and respected brands within the Republic of Ireland and UK. Argos is Ireland’s leading multi-channel retailer and Homebase is a leading home-enhancement retailer. Our exclusive Habitat brand gives our customers greater choice with premium quality and contemporary styling, as well as some best-selling iconic designs. Our Financial Services business makes it easy for our customers to buy the products they want.

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Heart of House research: Over 80% of UK renters admit that they aren’t saving for a home of their own as renting continues to become common around Britain

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-3-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Over 80 per cent of UK renters admit that they aren’t saving for a home of their own1 as renting continues to become increasingly common around Britain.

43 per cent of people said they feel trapped renting because they cannot afford to save for their own property1, but 25 per cent of respondents also said that renting suits their lifestyle1, according to research by Heart of House available at Argos.

The findings support research by the Office for National Statistics which shows that the number of homeowners aged 25-34 has decreased by 24 per cent over a ten year period 2, as is the case for 16-24 year olds with 24 per cent less owning their own home2.

London and Manchester are where renters are struggling to save, while renters in Birmingham and Leeds are more optimistic about climbing onto the property ladder.

Despite renting suiting the lifestyle of a younger generation at university or moving away for a career, around half of tenants are actually aged over 55 as older people cash in on their property and make the most of their retirement1.

Melanie Goodchild, Brand Manager for Heart of House, said: “It looks like renting is here to stay, but whether the decision to rent is financial or lifestyle related, there are quick ways that tenants can change a rental property to really make it feel just like their own place.

“This could be anything from carefully positioned mirrors, or adding splashes of colour with accessories like cushions and photos. If you talk with your landlord, you may be able to do even more.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

1 The research for Heart of House of 1,000 people was carried out by Opinion Matters in December 2014

2 ONS: Housing and Home Ownership in the UK, January 2015

About Heart of House

Heart of House is a range of homewares and furniture designed for real family life, available from Argos. Heart of House offers a wide range of more than 1600 practical and stylish products that are made to withstand the knocks, bumps and demands of daily family life.

About Argos

Argos is a leading UK digital retailer, offering around 50,000 products through www.argos.co.uk, its growing mobile channels, stores and over the telephone.

Argos continues to be the UK’s largest high street retailer online with around 123m customer transactions a year through its stores and 738 million website and app visits in the 12 months to February 2014.  Customers can take advantage of Argos’ convenient Check & Reserve service available through its network of 756 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

In the financial year to February 2014, Argos sales were £4.1 billion and it employed some 29,000 people across the business. Argos is part of Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer.

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Home Retail Group updates on the trading of its second financial quarter covering the 13 weeks to 30 August 2014

Milton Keynes, UK, 2014-9-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, today updates on the trading of its second financial quarter covering the 13 weeks to 30 August 2014.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group, commented:

“The Group has had a good first half. Argos delivered its ninth consecutive quarter of positive like-for-like sales growth in the second quarter.  For the first time in many years, this sales growth was supported by an improved gross margin performance.

“Homebase performed well over its peak trading period, following up its good performance in the first quarter with broadly flat like-for-like sales in the second quarter. This is especially pleasing given that we achieved this against a strong 11% like-for-like in the same period last year.

“At this halfway point of the financial year we expect to deliver full-year Group benchmark profit in line with current market expectations, however, as always the full-year outcome will depend upon Argos’ Christmas trading period.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about the broader economic environment. Key economic indicators seem to be improving, however retail spending in general has been inconsistent across both product categories and geographies, suggesting that there is not yet a sustainable, broad-based consumer recovery.”

 

Q1

Q2

H1

(13 weeks to
31 May 2014)
(13 weeks to
30 August
2014)
(26 weeks to
30 August
2014)

ARGOS

Sales £868m £901m £1,769m
Like-for-like sales change 4.9% 1.2% 2.9%
Net space sales change (0.1%) 0.2% 0.1%
Total sales change 4.8% 1.4% 3.0%
Gross margin movement Down c.25bps Up c.25bps c.0bps

HOMEBASE

Sales £445m £390m £835m
Like-for-like sales change 7.9% 0.1% 4.1%
Net space sales change (2.4%) (2.9%) (2.6%)
Total sales change 5.5% (2.8%) 1.5%
Gross margin movement Down c.50bps Down c.75bps Down c.75bps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARGOS

Total sales at Argos grew by 1.4% to £901m. Net new space contributed 0.2% as we added a net 13 stores in the quarter as part of previously announced trials, including nine Argos concessions within Homebase stores and four small format stores. The Argos portfolio now comprises 747 stores.

Like-for-like sales increased by 1.2% in the quarter. Growth was driven by increased sales of electrical products as a whole, principally as a result of strong sales performances in TVs, video gaming and white goods, partially offset by a further decline in tablets. These increased sales more than offset small sales declines in furniture, homewares and jewellery.

Sales via the internet grew in line with total sales in the quarter and represented 44% of total Argos sales. Within this, mobile commerce grew by 36% and represented 22% of total Argos sales.

The approximate 25 basis point gross margin improvement was driven by a reduced level of promotional sales together with a number of other small positive items, partially offset by an adverse sales mix impact from the growth in margin dilutive electrical products.

HOMEBASE

Total sales at Homebase declined by 2.8% to £390m due principally to a reduction in net space of 2.9% as a result of a net six store closures in the quarter, which results in a total of seven closures in the first half. The Homebase portfolio has therefore reduced to 316 stores.

Like-for-like sales increased by 0.1% in the quarter. There was growth in sales of big ticket products, offset by a decline in sales of seasonal products following the very strong performance in this category in the same period last year. Sales in the remaining product categories were slightly up.

The approximate 75 basis point gross margin reduction was driven by the adverse impact of stock clearance activity in respect of the store closures, together with an adverse sales mix impact from the growth in margin dilutive big ticket products.

OTHER

A cash payment of £33.4m was made to the Home Retail Group Employee Share Trust during the period to fund the purchase of 18.8m shares. The shares are in addition to those already held by the Trust and are needed to satisfy obligations arising from employee share schemes. A cumulative payment of £50.0m to fund the purchase of 26.8m shares has been made in the current financial year.

No other material events, transactions or impacts on the Group’s financial position have taken place since the previously announced 1 March 2014 balance sheet date.

 

There will be a conference call for analysts and investors to discuss this statement at 7.30am this morning.  The call can be listened to live on the Home Retail Group website www.homeretailgroup.com. An indexed replay will also be available on the website later in the day.

Home Retail Group will announce its half-year results on Wednesday 22 October 2014. An Interim Management Statement covering the 18 weeks from 31 August 2014 to 3 January 2015 will be announced on Thursday 15 January 2015.

 

To view the announcement in PDF, click here.

To listen to the conference call, click here.

Information in this announcement is based upon unaudited management accounts. In addition, certain statements made are forward looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statements.

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