Argos sales slipped in the first half of owner Home Retail's financial year. The catalogue retailer saw overall sales fall 1.4%, which was due to disappointing electrical and seasonal goods sales, according to the firm.
Home Retail sales fell by almost 1.5% to £2.63bn (€3.57bn, $4.06bn) although favourable currency helped the company widen its margins, causing operating profit to edge up by 8.7% in the half year. Lead by chief executive John Walden, the firm is working on a transformation plan for Argos, attempting to modernise the company.
"We look forward to an improved sales performance for both Argos and the Group in the second half," Walden told shareholders. "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 retailer is working on improving customer experiences for the holidays and is trying to offset the fall in TV and tablet sales. It has added almost 100 stores over the last year, hiking distribution costs but widening its customer base.
As online and in-store retailers try to minimise their delivery time, Argos too is battling the market. The firm has introduced Fast Track collection and delivery in order to serve impatient customers. The new programme is set to be introduced in the first months of 2016.
"Argos ... substantially completed the technology and operational steps necessary to launch 'Fast Track' – its new home delivery and store collection propositions," Walden told shareholders in a statement. "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."
Home Retails second subsidiary, Homebase, saw sales fall by 2.16% to £816.4m in the half year.