DSGi sales slump as crunch bites

Despite a post Christmas spike in sales the festive period was not particularly kind to DSG International which saw a double digit fall in like-for-like shipments during the 12 weeks to 10 January.

Despite a post Christmas spike in sales the festive period was not particularly kind to DSG International which saw a double digit fall in like-for-like shipments during the 12 weeks to 10 January.

In a trading update to the City this morning, the retail giant said that like-for-like sales fell 10% and gross margins dipped 0.8%, though it did experience a 2% rise in the fortnight after Christmas.

"The sales pattern through the period was as we anticipated with customers waiting for the post Christmas sales to purchase discretionary products, particularly televisions and laptops," said John Browett, DSGi chief executive in a statement.

The Renewal and Transformation programme kicked off last year continues to progress well, Browett said and the new format stores grew sales 15% to 25% in the last 12 weeks.

Demonstrating the nervousness retailers felt in the run up to Christmas, the company cut stock levels 16% year-on-year at constant currency rates.

In recent months DSGi has been the subject of several cuts in credit insurance, first from Atradius but followed by Euler in December and again last week as exclusively revealed by MicroScope.

The company said it has a £400m credit facility which is currently undrawn but warned "that some draw down will occur in the final quarter, as anticipated".

It is aiming to squeeze £20m worth of costs out of the business in the current fiscal year, on top of the £95m in savings it has already achieved.

Browett said: "We expect 2009 to be challenging across most of our markets and are actively planning and managing the business for negative like-for-likes."

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