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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 11:01 GMT
Christmas boost for Dixons owner
Customer and assistant in Currys store
Shoppers were keen to snap up electronic gadgets as gifts
Consumer appetite for hi-tech gadgets helped to lift sales at Dixons-owner DSG International over Christmas.

DSG, which also owns Currys and PC World, said like-for-like sales - which exclude new store openings - rose 2% in the eight weeks to 7 January.

Despite the festive lift, the group said it remained "cautious" about the outlook for the coming months.

DSG also reported pre-tax profits of 106.1m for the six months to November, down from 133.5m a year ago.

Cloudy future

The group said it was wary about future trading as consumer confidence remained low "particularly in the UK, Italy and Greece".

This was very much a 'Digital Christmas' in our stores
John Clare, Dixons chief executive

Chief executive John Clare blamed personal finance concerns such as worries about pensions, taxes and increasing energy costs for problems in the UK.

"We hope that what we've seen over Christmas is the first indication that things are changing a little bit in the UK, but we issue some words of caution this morning that the Christmas market is rather different. People are buying gifts for each other and for others, " Mr Clare told the BBC.

"Most of our business, for most of the year, is based on purchasing big products for the home and things like the appliance market - washing machines, refrigeration, cookers - which are not big sellers at Christmas, but are for the rest of the year, this market is still relatively depressed."

During the first six months of the financial year, like-for-like sales fell across its UK business, with Dixons sales down 2%, Currys 3%, PC World 8% while its Computing and Communications division saw a 12% drop in sales.

The group has been battling to offset the impact of weak appliance sales, deflation in computer prices and stiff competition in the mobile phone market by keeping tight control of costs and margins.

'Encouraging' trade

Despite its continued caution on prospects, DSG said it had enjoyed strong sales over the key Christmas trading period.

Games consoles, iPods, MP3 music players, laptops, satellite navigation equipment and flat panel TVs sold particularly well, the group said.

"I am pleased with the group's performance over our peak trading peak season with encouraging trading in our UK electricals and computing businesses in our overseas operations," Mr Clare said.

"This was very much a 'Digital Christmas' in our stores."

However, news from DSG's Link mobile phone stores was not as good, with sales tumbling 28% during the eight-week period.

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