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Challenge for Argos as tablet sales slide

By Roger Baird

The owner of Argos said it expects trading to remain "challenging" as the chain suffered a drop in sales after seeing demand fall for televisions and tablet computers.

Argos, which runs 788 stores, saw like-for-like sales fall 3.9% in the 13 weeks to May 30 as a rise in sales of mobile phones failed to offset the decline in electrical goods.

But parent Home Retail Group said same-store sales at its DIY chain Homebase lifted 5.4% in the quarter, driven by sales of big-ticket and seasonal items.

The DIY chain closed 17 shops after it said in October it would shut a quarter of its 323 home improvement stores by early 2018. It currently runs 279 Homebase outlets.

By contrast, the group opened a net 33 Argos stores in the three months to the end of May, part of a five-year revamp which is introducing newly-designed shops and iPads for ordering products instead of catalogues. It opened 32 Argos concessions within Homebase, and two within Sainsbury's as the supermarket forges partnerships with other retailers to fill under-used shop floor space.

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