Electrical retailer suffers a case of the World Cup blues

Comet parent Kesa Electricals has reported a three-fold increase in UK half-year losses as second quarter sales slumped 10 per cent.

The retailer saw trading worsen significantly after a buoyant first quarter that was boosted by the World Cup, when UK like-for-like sales rose 4.3 per cent thanks to a surge in flat-screen television sales.

Kesa said its Comet chain in the UK saw losses widen to 6.4 million euros in the six months to October 31 up from 1.8m euros a year ago, while sales dropped 2.6 per cent to 864.1m euros.

It added the recent snowy weather had also hit recent trading, which the retailer hoped to make up before Christmas and on Boxing Day.

The retailer said Comet's second quarter figures were a result of a slump in sales following the World Cup and because of tough comparables in the previous year when it gained market share.

It launched a three-year recovery plan for its 249-strong Comet chain earlier this year that involved refitting stores, sharper pricing and changing its product mix to include more kitchen and beauty products and accessories.

Online sales increased by 8 per cent in the half-year and now account for 14.6 per cent of revenues after it revamped its website and added more products to its online offer. Kesa said sales of 'tablets' such as iPads had been strong.