Monday 29 April 2013

Argos squares up for Amazon battle

With like-for-like sales rising by 5.2% - its best performance since 2006 - in the final quarter of its financial year, coupled with a better than expected profit forecast (results due Wednesday 1st May) of £90m, Argos may be on the way back...

However, Argos-watching NAMs may feel that this recovery may be more a reflection of the demise of Jessops and Comet, than improvements in state-of-art retailing expertise...

According to a report in The Telegraph, Argos are planning  to spend £100m in each of the next three years to put the retailer in shape to battle with Amazon by converting its 700 stores into 100 “showrooms” and 600 click & collect sites, and providing advice from customers assistants.  .

The real issue has to be Argos ability to compete on an equal footing with Amazon and increasingly Tesco, a daunting prospect given their head-start in offering a combination of speed, (1-click) service, multi-channel access, pricing, and increasingly click & collect.

Whilst Argos' commitment to the new show-rooming initiative, combined hopefully with high grade store advisors and efficient click & collect, could offer an initial advantage, anything less than state-of-art performance will result in Argos having to fall back on price and range in attempting to grow sales at the expense of two of the leading players in the market.

However, the fundamental issue for Argos and its suppliers has to be its emphasis upon private label, planning to double its current 15% of sales to a third by 2018, in categories where retailer brands are not an obvious choice.

Given that much of Argos success will depend upon brands' collaboration, they may find that supplier NAMs may prefer to work in the heat of the kitchen with Tesco and Amazon, a place where consumers actually come to buy brands...  

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