Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Home Retail Braced for Credit-Crunch Blow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Home Retail Braced for Credit-Crunch Blow

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGO DUNCAN

HOMEBASE and Argos owner Home Retail Group today sounded a note ofcaution amid fears the crisis in financial markets could hit the wider economy.

The company warned that the credit crunch and higher mortgage costs will hitconsumer spending in the build-up to Christmas. Chief executive Terry Duddysaid: "The uncertain consumer outlook means we must remain cautious at thisstage of the year." Home Retail reported plummeting sales at its 311 Homebasestores as the wet summer hit sales of garden furniture, barbecues and gardeningtools. Lawnmower sales were up, however, as grass grew more quickly in thesummer's heavy rain than during last year's drought. Like-for-like sales atHomebase were down 2.5% in the first half of the financial year after 2.7%growth between March and May was undone by an 8% fall in June, July and August.Total first-half sales hit [pounds sterling]854 million.

Duddy said sales of summer lines such as garden furniture tumbled 20% as aresult of the appalling weather. …

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