Retailer weathers storm as European operation feel effects of slowdown

Comet sees flat Christmas

Comet saw sales fall over the vital Christmas period, as consumers held back on major purchases its parent company Kesa Electricals has revealed in its third quarter results.

Total sales were down 0.4 per cent compared to Christmas 2007, while like-for-like sales were also down at 2.5 per cent. Chief executive Jean-Noël Labroue said that the retailer had done particularly well in the post Christmas sales, but conceded that this had had an effect on margins.

However, despite the falls, the retailer performed better than its European arms, with French market leader Darty seeing sales fall by 3.6 per cent, while like-for-like sales were down 6.2 per cent.

Overall, Kesa saw sales increase by 11 per cent, but decline 2.2 per cent when taking local currency into account. Like-for-like sales declined 5.5 per cent, though the firm said that this was in line with expectations.

"As anticipated, the trading conditions across all our markets for our important peak period were very tough with further deterioration in Continental Europe," added Labroue.

"In the UK, Comet delivered a particularly strong post-Christmas sales performance and overall our businesses continued to make good progress in stock and cash management.

"We are expecting the difficult economic environment to continue and we will remain particularly focussed on maintaining our strong balance sheet including net cash at the end of April," he added.

Despite the poor figures, the sales fall was not as bad as that the retailer experienced during the second quarter when it saw like-for-like sales fall by ten per cent and overall sales fall 6.6 per cent.

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