There have been a lot of reports in the press about DSGi struggling – how do you respond to these claims?
We are an international business. Since the late ‘90s the company has become less UK-centric, and is focused right across the international scene. We’ve got strategies to open stores in a new territory every year. The latest one was Turkey and there’s going to be another territory announcement soon.
To put it into perspective, the key thing to say is that 40 per cent of our sales are now outside of the UK. But having said all that, of course the UK is a really strong base.
A number of retailers have hit tough times. The credit crunch and low confidence has affected sales, but we get hundreds of millions of customers a year across Europe.
We’re still the largest international electrical retailer. Our online business has gone from start-up in 2002 to over $600 million sales in five years in 26 countries. We have a very, very broad business that is growing, but with challenges in certain territories and certain products. It’s challenging but it’s vibrant.
We have a new chief exec who used to be a Board director at Tesco and he’s very focused on the really key things, which are value and multi-channel. We’re a vibrant business anyway, and he’s putting an extra shot of energy into the operation.
It seems there’s a lot of change going on at DSGi – can you outline what the main changes are?
We’ve got a multi-channel business, so we’ve got mixed electrical, we did the re-branding of Dixons on the High Street as a part of our multi-channel strategy and Dixons is now a pure online brand. We’ve got brown goods, TVs, white goods, grey goods and gaming. We had a big games roll out in Currys, and I can see that continuing.
DSGi’s stores have always had a big presence on the High Street – how do you plan to take this online?
I talked earlier about having a multi-channel strategy and we can’t compete in retail today without having an online strategy. That is why the amount of PCs we sell as a group across Europe is simply astronomical.
The challenge not just for DSG but any retailer is to create that balance between competition and commodity, as well as understanding our consumers, who have different aspirations and spending patterns.
PC World is chasing the family, those that want digital convergence, with technology built for education and entertainment. Gaming is the same – it encompasses everybody and appeals to all ages.
Gaming is for everyone. We need to have a really strong online presence, so customers can buy what they want, when they want, which is why we let them pick up from store. Gamers who want the latest release will research the product and can see it online and have the chance to collect it from the store, no need to wait.
How are you looking to improve on your High Street retail offering?
It’s important to strike a balance between commodity count and a product that needs service. We are spending lots of money talking to customers.
It’s through this we stopped extended warranty. What we have is a service offer which means whatever happens, we’ll come and sort it out for our customers. We want an ongoing relationship with people. If we treat customers well they’ll come back.