Belfast Telegraph

Sainsbury's presses ahead with roll-out of Argos stores in supermarkets

Sainsbury's has pushed ahead with plans to launch more Argos stores in its supermarkets, opening its 50th outlet as it looks to better compete with rivals.

The move is part of integration plans between the two retailers following the grocery giant's £1.4 billion takeover of Argos and Habitat owner Home Retail Group last year.

Sainsbury's has committed to opening 250 Argos concessions over three years, with boss Mike Coupe saying every supermarket in the country will eventually have either a store-in-store or a click-and-collect point.

Argos also said it plans to transform 60 stand-alone Argos stores to a digital format.

The move comes as the Big Four grocer looks to bolster the number of mini-Habitat stores in its supermarkets from seven to 17 by the end of the financial year.

Argos chief John Rogers said: "The opening of our 50th Argos Digital store just seven months after we acquired the company shows we are moving ahead at pace with our strategy.

"Our decision to transform 60 Argos stores by March next year moves our strategy on further."

The takeover of Home Retail aims to deliver cost savings and give the firm greater firepower to take on the likes of Amazon.

In an update last month, Sainsbury's said trading remained "very competitive" and warned over continuing price pressures from the weak pound as it saw supermarket sales slip back into reverse.

It posted a 0.5% fall in like-for-like supermarket sales, excluding fuel, in its fourth quarter to March 11, down from a rise of 0.1% in the previous three months.

Focusing on business rates, Mr Rogers urged the Government to make radical reforms to an "anachronistic tax".

He said: "I think the Government could be more proactive in facing into the challenge.

"We have been talking to them for the past 18 months to get a change to business rates, and we have seen small changes made to the current system, but we haven't seen fundamental change.

"I think the world has moved on. It's an anachronistic tax, and in this digital age we need a business tax that reflects the way people shop and levels the playing field."

Asked whether he thinks there is likely to be more consolidation in the retail industry, he said: "The food retail market is relatively consolidated already, but general merchandising and clothing is more fragmented.

"I think we will see more consolidation in general merchandising and clothing markets over time and that will benefit consumers."