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By | Paul Kunert 29th November 2012 10:38

Dixons returns to profit in UK, rubs hands as Comet circles drain

Losses overall down to crazy Pixmania, penniless 'peans

Dixons Retail says it's positioned to capitalise on Comet's collapse as the firm returned to profit in the UK for the first time in five years.

Group challenges still remain, however, with gadget souk PIXmania still performing "poorly" and those pesky penniless peeps in Southern Europe dragging numbers down.

Pre-tax losses for the first of half of Dixons' fiscal 2013 ended 13 October narrowed to £22.2m on £25.3m a year earlier. Total losses before tax were £79.5m after net non-underlying charges of £57.3m, mostly accounted for by the the £45.2m writedown in the "goodwill value" of PIXmania.

Clearly the retailer is running to stand still in the current consumer landscape as sales were flat year-on-year at $3.29bn, despite CEO Sebastian James claiming it was taking share from rivals.

"We are outpacing our competitors, and have seen Comet enter administration in the UK and Expert exiting the market in Sweden," he said in a canned statement.

Dixons has offered Comet staff being made redundant a "fair crack" at up to 3,000 temp jobs up for grabs this Christmas, probably cutting its bill for recruitment in the process.

Turnover in the UK edged up 2 per cent, climbed 6 per cent in the Nordics and Central Europe but dived 13 and 15 per cent in Southern Europe and PIXmania respectively.

James said sales benefited from the Jubilympics but suffered from a slight seasonal summer slowdown in late August and September, adding: "We remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook."

The group said it is "on track" to hack another £90m worth of expenses out of the business over the next two years, and has slashed net debt to £9.9m from £143.2m a year earlier.

James said the slablets, smart TVs and a range of other fresh tech would tantalise shoppers this Christmas, but he didn't specifically call out Windows 8 as a business booster. ®

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