Home Retail Group appoints new boss

It's taken four months, but Home Retail has scoured the country - and appointed someone right under its nose.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 05 Jan 2016

After a four-month search, Home Retail Group - parent company of Argos and Homebase - has appointed a new chief executive. And like all the most frustrating searches, he was under the company’s nose the whole time: current Argos boss John Walden will take the reins from current chief exec Terry Duddy in mid-March.

When Walden took the helm at Argos in February 2012, he was seen as an outside candidate, with less retail experience than some analysts would have liked, but has impressed the company since then, helping Argos lift sales from an 8.5% drop in March 2012 to a 2.1% rise a year later. So he should be more than capable of continuing Home Retail Group’s turnaround.

Results posted this morning show the group is continuing to improve: like-for-like sales at Argos rose by 3.8% to £1.8bn in the 18 weeks to the beginning of January (ie during the crucial Christmas period), while sales at Homebase rose by 4.7% to £464m. At Argos, the rise was driven ‘principally as a result of growth in video gaming, tablets, televisions and white goods’ (although jewellery sales declined. MT can’t understand it).

Duddy, whose aim and goal for several years has been to increase online sales (the raison d’etre for those creepy blue aliens in its ads), added with a certain satisfaction that internet sales now represent 46% of Argos’ total sales, up from 42% during the same period last year, while mobile sales grew by 75%. So it sounds like the company is finally catching up with the likes of Amazon.

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