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By | Paul Kunert 24th November 2011 10:41

Rampaging Brit looters cost Dixons £4m

Chain's losses narrow but widen at group level

Dixons Retail has fared relatively better than High Street rivals after trading results today showed that its fiscal half-year losses narrowed substantially in the UK.

The firm posted underlying losses of £3.9m in the 24 weeks to 15 October, down from £10.7m a year ago - but the consumer meltdown, which forced a Best Buy retreat and saw Comet sold for £2, pushed down Dixons' like-for-like sales by eight per cent to £1.53bn.

Computing kit led by a laptop refresh cycle and continued interest in fondleslabs boosted numbers as did white goods shipments. The UK results were hit however by a £4m one-off cost for the August riots when Dixons stores were ransacked - even though chief executive John Browett believed in September that his company wouldn't suffer financially as a result of the looting.

The accounts for the group were peppered with red ink with an underlying loss before tax of £25.3m, compared to a loss of £6.9m a year ago. This was largely on the back of the troubled operations in Greece, Italy and the e-commerce unit. Operating losses were £5.3m.

Property losses for the period were £10.6m due to store refitting and asset disposal, which is part of the transformation programme. Sales across the entire business were up one per cent to £3.29bn but down five per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Net debt during the half fiscal year reduced to £143.2m down from £215.1m.

Chief executive John Browett said it was taking share from rivals in "what remains a challenging environment". Retailers are now waiting with bated breath for the vitally important Christmas, though analysts at Deloitte have warned that retail sales will remain sluggish until 2013 due to public sector budget cuts, and rising unemployment and household costs. ®

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