Currys and PC World owner Dixons sees sales fall 5%

Dixons retail
Image caption The firm's performance was better than expected despite the fall in sales

The owner of Currys and PC World, Dixons Retail, has reported a drop in sales over Christmas.

In a trading update, the firm said like-for-like sales fell 5% in the 12 weeks to 7 January, although analysts had expected a larger drop.

In the UK and Irish Republic, like-for-like sales - which exclude new store openings - were down 7%.

Chief executive John Browett called the result a "solid performance" with consumer confidence still "fragile".

He added that Dixons - which operates 640 stores in the UK under its various brands - would take a "cautious approach" in the year ahead.

The company said last year's VAT rise had distorted figures for the sales period in the New Year.

Like-for-like sales were up 2% in the two weeks to January 14 and 23% from January 4 to 14.

Dixons, which also runs Elkjop in Nordic countries, UniEuro in Italy and Kotsovolos in Greece, said margins across the group were flat year on year.

Online has become increasingly important for the business and now makes up 19% of sales across the group.

Mr Browett said the group had outperformed rivals Comet, which was recently sold by parent Kesa Electricals for £2, and Best Buy, which announced in November it would close its UK stores.

Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, said Dixons was the "last man standing" and added he believed the company would benefit when consumer confidence returns.

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