Encouraging first half with Group like for like sales up 6%.
Improved profitability with Underlying Group EBIT up 52% to £48.1 million.
- UK & Ireland delivered a strong performance, with underlying operating profits up five-fold to £31.4 million.
- Northern Europe continues to perform well in competitive markets, delivering an underlying operating profit of £45.5 million.
Good cash generation, achieving net cash of £55.4 million compared to a net debt position of £21.9 million in the first half of last year.
Excellent progress made on the strategic goal to focus on our leading market positions:
- Completed the disposals of Electroworld operations in Turkey and Unieuro in Italy.
- Completion of the disposal of PIXmania expected by the end of December.
On track to reduce costs by our targeted £45 million in the current year.
Return on Capital Employed in the 12 months to 31 October 2013 has improved to 15.6%, up from the 11.6% reported at 30 April 2013.
Sebastian James, Chief Executive commented:
"I am pleased to report that we have had a successful first half with customer satisfaction and profitability up considerably year on year. In fact, as a Group we are reporting an underlying profit for the first time in six years. The UK & Ireland, in particular, has performed very well while our Nordic business is more than holding its own in a - somewhat - more competitive market. Our Greek business continues to grow market share against some gusty headwinds.
I am very happy that, in the last few months, we have been able to streamline the Group substantially. The transactions that we have announced with PIXmania, Unieuro and Electroworld in Turkey represent a real achievement and will leave Dixons in a leadership position in all of our major markets. Quite apart from removing a significant profit-drag on the business, these changes mean that we can really focus on new and exciting opportunities to do more for our customers and suppliers, and on working more closely to drive tangible benefits from being part of our Group.
We remain cautious about the outlook for consumers in our markets; very strong trading this time last year, together with the fact that we have now annualised Comet's exit makes the second half more challenging. Nevertheless, we have had a great first half and our stores have never looked better - or had better offers for customers."