However, there was only an incremental increase in the store’s like-for-like sales, which creeped up by a lowly 0.2 per cent.
“Our trading approach in the period reflected an expectation of the general merchandise market becoming more difficult,” said CEO of Argos’ parent company, the Home Retail Group, Terry Duddy.
“A less promotional stance, together with good operational control, proved successful in a market that showed little or no growth until just before Christmas.”
Duddy added that Argos expects full year profits to be at the top end of analysts’ expectations, ranging from £336 million to £363 million for the full year. But he recommended caution throughout 2007. “Looking forward, the retail environment is likely to remain challenging and we continue to position our business accordingly.”
The results were more favourable than those of Argos’ biggest general merchandise rival, Woolworths, which suffered from a like-for-like sales drop in the six weeks leading up to January 13th. The firm blamed a poor seasonal performance on CD, DVD and confectionary for its troubles.
Duddy hit out at Woolworths' move into the catalogue market with its Big Red Book. He added: "[Woolworths] featured a lot of toys [in their new catalogue] but that doesn't seem to have translated into sales."