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By | Paul Kunert 17th January 2013 10:40

Dixons steps over Comet's bloodied body to nab bonus Xmas sales

Four per cent growth? Yoink!

Blighty's High Street is in meltdown, but Dixons Retail bucked the gloomy trend and reported relatively decent sales growth over Christmas. The chain reckons it successfully hoovered up trade from fallen rivals.

According to figures filed for the 12 weeks to 5 January, sales by the parent of Currys and PC World were up four per cent year on year if currency exchange rate fluctuations are eliminated. Tablet computer sales were particularly strong but hit the group's gross margin.

The company's UK and Ireland and Northern Europe units grew seven per cent and nine per cent in sales, respectively. The organisation's troubled gadget souk PIXmania and Dixons' stores in Southern Europe declined two and 25 per cent, respectively.

Dixons' profit before tax remains in line with expectations, the group said first thing this morning, and estimates it will be in the region of £75m to £85m.

Sebastian James, Dixons chief exec, claimed customers voted with their wallets while his shop staffers capitalised on the downfall of others, notably Comet which collapsed late last year.

"We continue to benefit from capacity exiting these markets," he said.

Dixons' operations in Italy and Greece were "trading ahead of weak local markets and continuing to manage profitability robustly", the company added.

Across the group, fondleslab sales were "phenomena" but this "impacted overall headline margins somewhat". James added that PIXmania remained "disappointing" but he revealed restructuring plans were on course to carve out a better financial footing for the unit - cost cutting, in other words.

In the wake of the Comet, Jessops and HMV downfalls, Dixons bosses are understandably cautious.

"Whilst we will manage our cost base cautiously, we see many opportunities to improve the overall performance of our group through further developments in our service offer to customers, sharing best practice, controlling costs and focusing on multi-channel growth," the CEO said. ®

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