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Profits are halved as Argos sees sales drop

By Holly Williams

The owner of Argos has warned about full-year profits after first half earnings nearly halved at the high street chain amid weak demand for televisions and tablet computers and hefty start-up costs for its same-day delivery service.

Operating profits at Argos dropped 47% to £6.4m in the six months to August 29, with like-for-like sales down 3.4%.

The company, which has 27 stores in Northern Ireland, announced it was creating 280 part-time jobs here in time for Christmas.

Parent firm Home Retail Group said its DIY business Homebase enjoyed a better start to the year, with earnings up 23% to £34.3m. This helped group underlying pre-tax profits rise 10% to £34.1m in the first half, but chief executive John Walden said the overall performance was "mixed".

Home Retail hopes for a pick-up in sales at Argos, but cautioned that "challenging" trading, costs of its Fast Track service and an unpredictable Christmas were likely to see annual profits fall "slightly" short.

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