Home Retail Group profits hit

The Home Retail Group reported a 30% drop in operating profit in the last year.

In the 52 weeks ending February 27 2016, the group saw benchmark operating profit drop from £129.5 million in the financial year for 2015 to £91.1m this year.

It also saw sales drop 1% at £5.67 billion, compared with £5.71bn last year.

This decline was mainly driven by Homebase, which was sold to Wesfarmers on February 27 for a cash consideration of £340m.

It reported a 3.1% decline in sales in the full year to February 27, to £1.43bn (£1.47bn in 2015).

Net space reduced sales by 8.3% due to the planned reduction in store estate by 34 stores during the year.

Store closures also resulted in total operating and distribution costs decreasing by £44m.

However, like-for-like sales increased by 5.2%, with growth mainly on big tickets items.

Benchmark operating profit also increased by 19%, from £19.8m to £23.5m.

Argos, also owned by the Home Retail Group, saw virtually no change to sales at £4.095bn, compared with £4.096 in 2015.

John Walden, chief executive of Home Retail Group, said: “The past year has been a landmark period for the Group, during which we have completed the sale of Homebase and recommended to shareholders the offer from J Sainsbury for the acquisition of the remaining Group, principally Argos.

“The Group ended the year with a cash balance of £623m, which is significantly stronger than previously anticipated. With leading digital capabilities, new Fast Track propositions, proven and flexible digital store formats and strong financial resources, we are well positioned for an exciting future.”

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