Dixons' sales crash as Thorntons goes into the red

More woe for retailers as sales crash at Dixons while Thorntons feels the heat.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Dixons, the electronic retailer which owns the Currys and PC World brands, reported a 10% fall in like-for-like sales over the 12 weeks to mid-July in the UK and Ireland. This was partly because sales were compared to the strong trading seen a year ago, when Britain was in the throes of World Cup celebrations. Sales of TVs and computers were boosted last summer as people rushed to watch the games, while the launch of apple’s iPad also helped bolster sales.

The business was also hit by weak consumer spending over the year, a trend that has concerned most retailers.  Across the group as a whole, sales were down 7% year-on-year.  But it’s not all bad news: shares rose by as much as 8% as analysts found the update to be ‘reassuring’ and said it could have been worse. Chief executive John Browett said that sales are likely to rise again next year in time for the Olympics, with sales of 3D televisions expected to be strong.     

Oddly enough, it was the opposite story for chocolate maker Thorntons.  The company reported record sales throughout the year, but even that wasn’t enough to stop the business making a loss.  

The firm made a pre-tax loss of £1.1m for the year to June. That’s a staggering fall from last year’s profit of £6.1m, but was mainly because of a number of exceptional circumstances. The chocolatier was hit by a number of costs, one-off charges and ongoing lease payments on closed stores, as the business is restructured. The company is gradually moving away from the high street to focus on selling through supermarkets and online. In June the company announced it would be closing up to 180 stores over three years, half its total number of outlets.  

Then again, even without the exceptional items profit would still have been down at £4.3m.  Sales melted by 22.8% over Easter compared to a year ago as the hot weather put shoppers off buying chocolate goods.  Considering retailers struggled with the icy weather last winter, it looks like sales are freezing whatever the weather.

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