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By | Paul Kunert 16th January 2014 14:01

Boxing Day sales bubble boosts Dixons - but don't hit the champers just yet

CEO: We slurped £100k a minute back then - but we're lukewarm about recovery

UK saps shoppers spent more than £100,000 a minute at Dixons Retail during the Boxing Day sales helping to drag it into growth during the Christmas quarter for the second consecutive year.

But CEO Sebastian James held off talking up any recovery given the torrid time that many electronics retailers have faced in the past four years, and was lukewarm about prospects for the rest of its fiscal ending June.

That said, the firm is clearly still benefiting from the demise of rival Comet, though Dixons would also argue that an overhaul of its store format and efforts to improve customer services - work started by former CEO John Browett - are also paying dividends.

In a Chrimbo trading statement covering the period from 1 November to 4 January, Dixons said group sales were up two per cent in constant currency, with business in the UK rising five per cent and two per cent in Northern Europe where it had "festive scuffles" with rivals.

"This has been a lively Christmas with plenty of ups and downs," said James.

He described Black Friday weekend in Blighty as "remarkably busy" but added this was followed by a "somewhat quieter couple of weeks as we approached Christmas Day".

But punters flocked to the stores the day after Santa emptied his sack, and "business took off like a rocket" said James, making it a record day for Dixons, "with more than £100,000 flowing through our tills every minute".

The CEO added: "This is especially encouraging as we have already passed the anniversary of Comet's departure from the market."

Despite jettisoning businesses in Southern Europe in recent years across countries including Spain, Italy and Turkey, Dixons has retained a foothold in the region in Greece, and here sales fell eight per cent due to a "tough" economy.

Internet sales at the firm went up 23 per cent during the timeframe.

James said the overall numbers were good, "but I am mindful that what recovery there is in the UK is still fledgling, and we continue to plan accordingly.

"We have some strong comparables in the fourth quarter and, with a later Easter as well, I expect performance in the remainder of our financial year to be more modest than the year to date." ®

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