Dixons Carphone gets wrong number in Christmas trading update

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Dixons Carphone DC.L had to re-issue its Christmas trading statement on Tuesday after reporting an incorrect sales figure due to "a clerical error", taking the shine off what had been a well received update.

FILE PHOTO: A sign displays the logo of Dixons Carphone at the company headquarters in London, Britain August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Nearly seven hours after publishing a statement covering the ten weeks to Jan. 4, the owner of Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse stores issued an amended version. It had reported total sales growth of 2% when they actually fell 2%.

All other details of its report, including the key underlying sales figures, were unchanged.

Having risen as much as 6% in early trading, shares in Dixons Carphone dipped into negative territory before recovering to trade up 3% at 1426 GMT.

The group’s underlying sales figures showed robust demand for super-sized televisions, gaming sets and smart technology helped it to outperform a weak UK market over the key festive period, keeping it on track to meet its financial targets.

“Dixons Carphone must have been a prime candidate for a profit warning, but the company has wriggled off the hook, thanks to strong market share gains,” said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb after the company stuck to the financial guidance it issued last month.

Official data published on Friday showed British consumers failed to increase their spending for a record fifth month in a row in December, adding to signs of economic weakening that might prompt the Bank of England to cut interest rates this month.

Dixons Carphone said growth in UK electricals and its international division offset continuing declines in mobile phone sales in its home market.

“The super-sizing trend in TVs shows no sign of running out of steam,” Chief Executive Alex Baldock told reporters, noting the company’s sales of 65-inch TVs jumped 75% year on year.

He also highlighted strong sales of Apple AirPods, Nintendo Switch gaming sets and smart technology such as Fitbit wearables, enabling the UK & Ireland electricals division to report a 2% rise in like-for-like sales.

Baldock said Dixons Carphone won market share in an overall electricals sector down more than 3%.

Having taken the helm in April 2018, Baldock is leading a programme to turn around Dixons Carphone after it was damaged by a shift in the mobile phone market as customers keep their handsets for longer, choose cheaper SIM-only deals and turn to more flexible credit-based offers.

His plan is to focus on the group’s core electricals division while revitalising the mobile phones business. He also wants to bring the retailer’s stores and online operations closer together and develop its credit business.

Group like-for-like sales growth was zero, against analyst expectations of a 1% fall and a 2% decline in the second quarter.

“We’ve had a good peak (trading season) in a weak UK market and we’re on track to deliver what we promised for this year and with our longer-term transformation,” Baldock said.

He dismissed a weekend media report that the group could pursue a merger with Germany's Ceconomy CECG.DE.

“I can honestly say we’ve got plenty to do with this transformation of ours and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton, David Goodman and Mark Potter