| LONDON, April 13
LONDON, April 13 Britain's No. 2 supermarket
group Sainsbury plans to convert 60 Argos general
merchandise stores to a digital format and open more in-store
Habitat outlets over the next year, it said on Thursday.
Last September Sainsbury purchased Argos- and Habitat-owner
Home Retail for 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion), securing an
avenue of growth in non-food while also enhancing its online
The acquisition has so far proved a success with Argos's
underlying sales increasing 4.3 percent in Sainsbury's fiscal
Sainsbury has already opened 50 Argos Digital stores, using
tablet PCs instead of catalogues to select goods and place
orders, in its supermarkets and has committed to opening 250
over three years.
The move to transform 60 stand-alone Argos stores to the
digital format, which offers shoppers faster access to thousands
of products, represents the next stage of Sainsbury's growth
plans. It also said it plans to open another 10 mini Habitats in
supermarkets in its 2017-18 year, bringing the total to 17.
Argos Chief Executive John Rogers noted an uplift of between
1 and 2 percent in sales from Argos customers shopping for food,
general merchandise and clothing in Sainsbury stores.
He said Argos Digital stores located in Sainsbury
supermarkets open for more than a year were delivering
like-for-like sales growth of 20 to 30 percent.
However, some analysts caution that life could get tougher
for Argos as 2017 progresses. They argue it will see higher
import costs due to the weaker pound, while consumers are likely
to see a decline in discretionary income as inflation bites.
($1 = 0.7995 pounds)
(Editing by David Holmes)