1 Home Retail Group plc Annual Report & Financial Statements 2007
2 Contents Group Highlights 01 Store Guide 02 Introduction 03 Chairman s Statement 04 Business Review> Strategy & Progress 06 Business Review> Principal Risks & Uncertainties 15 Business Review> Argos 16 Business Review> Homebase 20 Business Review> Financial Services 24 Business Review> Central Activities/New Development 26 Business Review> Financial Summary 27 Business Review> Financial Review 28 Business Review> Corporate Responsibility 32 Board of Directors 38 Directors Report 40 Corporate Governance 42 Directors Remuneration Report 47 Statement of Directors Responsibilities 57 Independent Auditors Report - Group 58 Consolidated Income Statement 59 Consolidated Statement of Recognised Income and Expense 60 Consolidated Balance Sheet 61 Consolidated Cash Flow Statement 62 Notes to the Financial Statements 64 Independent Auditors Report - Parent 97 Parent Company Balance Sheet 98 Notes to the Parent Company Financial Statements 99 Group Two Year Summary 103 Shareholder Information 104 Detailed Index 105 Certain statements made in this report are forward looking statements. Such statements are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from any expected future events or results referred to in these forward looking statements.
3 Group Highlights 01 Home Retail Group, the UK s leading home and general merchandise retailer, publishes its first Annual Report for the financial period ended 3 March The financial period is shorter than a full year due to the change in year-end and it also includes certain financial impacts of GUS plc s ownership of Home Retail Group up to the point of demerger on 10 October To assist with analysis and comparison, certain pro forma information has therefore been provided to eliminate the distortions of these two impacts on the performance of Home Retail Group. Operating highlights Delivered on each element of the strategy for growth Expanded product choice, improved ranges and enhanced the customer offer Extended our leading market share in UK home and general merchandise Driven gross margin benefits through leverage of purchasing scale and ongoing supply chain initiatives Enlarged the combined portfolio by 38 stores to reach 990 Capitalised on clear multi-channel retail leadership Established further initiatives and operational improvements to continue driving sustainable growth Financial highlights Pro forma sales up 6% in total to 5,851m (2006: 5,510m) with like-for-like sales up 2.4% at Argos and down 1.4% at Homebase; reported sales of 5,607m Pro forma benchmark operating profit up 8% to 359.4m (2006: 331.8m) with growth at both Argos and Homebase; reported operating profit of 305.2m Pro forma benchmark profit before tax up 12% to 376.7m (2006: 337.1m); reported profit before tax of 296.9m Pro forma basic benchmark earnings per share up 14% to 29.3p (2006: 25.6p); reported basic earnings per share of 21.6p Benchmark pre-tax return on invested capital up 150 basis points to 12.0% Final dividend of 9.0p recommended, making 13.0p for the year , ,927 5,313 5,510 5, % % 13.4% 12.0% 10.5% Sales - continuing operations ( m) Benchmark operating profit - continuing operations ( m) Pre-tax return on invested capital 05 onwards under IFRS, 06 and 07 are on a 52-week pro forma basis The basis of preparation of pro forma restatements is set out on page 26, and benchmark measures on pages 28 and 29 Home Retail Group share price performance (454p closing price for 2 May 2007) 470p 450p 430p 410p 390p 11 October % +10% +5% 0% -5% 2 May 2007 HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Group Highlights Home Retail Group FTSE 100 FTSE 350 General Retail
4 02 Store Guide Combined portfolio of 990 stores as at 3 March Argos stores across the UK and Eire 310 Homebase stores across the UK and Eire Scotland Argos 60 Homebase 33 Total Argos store space of 9.1m sq ft, including 2.4m sq ft of customer area Locations with both Argos and Homebase stores Total Homebase selling space of 14.6m sq ft, including 3.3m sq ft of garden centre and 1.8m sq ft of mezzanine space Northern Ireland Argos 26 Homebase 8 Eire Argos 31 Homebase 10 England Argos 527 Homebase 249 Wales Argos 36 Homebase 10 This map is a graphical representation of the Home Retail Group store profile.
5 Introduction 03 Who? We are the UK s leading home and general merchandise retailer. Our customers know us better as Argos and Homebase two household names and highly successful retail formats. Argos sells a broad range of products consumer and household electrical goods; a comprehensive range of furniture and housewares; equipment and other goods for sporting and leisure pursuits; DIY, gardening and outdoor equipment; toys for all ages; and jewellery. Homebase also sells across a broad range of home-related categories to help people improve their homes and gardens Homebase s offer includes all the products needed for doit-yourself, decorating and gardening projects as well as fitted kitchens and bathrooms; furniture, housewares and accessories. Both businesses are supported by an in-house financial services operation that provides customers with a range of credit and insurance products. Both Argos and Homebase use catalogues, websites, brochures and stores to present their extensive product ranges and make it easy for customers to shop. This multichannel approach has helped Home Retail Group gain a market-leading 10% share in the 58 billion home and general merchandise market with strong market positions in each of the categories we sell. How many? We are the 53,000 colleagues that make a winning team focussed on delivering customers what they want for their homes and gardens. We are the store staff, the buyers and merchandisers, the home delivery and logistics personnel and all the supporting functions that make a highly successful retailer. We are also each and every one of our stakeholders, including our customers who shop with us over 200 million times a year our investors, commercial partners and the wider communities in which we operate Launch of Argos 1981 Launch of Homebase 1998 Acquisition of Argos by GUS plc Launch of Where? Our 990 stores are located throughout the UK and Eire. Supporting these stores are central operations in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, together with logistics and support operations across the country. We also have our own sourcing operations in overseas locations. We are more than just store locations. We offer our customers extensive Internet and telephone ordering services, supported by a home delivery service which delivers direct to customers homes more than seven million times a year. Why? Home Retail Group is new we demerged from our former parent company GUS plc in October That made us a standalone, independent business and a FTSE 100 company in our own right. We have a long and trusted heritage. Argos has been building its position as the UK s most successful catalogue retailer since 1973, and Homebase became a new, distinctive DIY format in Our vision is to be a leading retailing group that delivers sustainable returns for all our stakeholders. We aim for sectorleading sales and profit growth, while acting responsibly and ethically towards all those with whom we have a relationship. We look forward to a bright future. We have grown strongly, and have a clear strategy in place to continue driving our business forward for further success Acquisition of Homebase by GUS plc 2003 Launch of Argos Extra 17,000 SKU catalogue 2004 Launch of Homebase Furniture Extra Terry Duddy Chief Executive 2005 Acquisition of 33 Index stores Argos online sales reached 1 billion Argos Extra rolled out nationally Homebase Furniture Extra rolled out nationally 2006 Demerger of Home Retail Group from GUS plc HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Store Guide and Introduction
6 04 Chairman s Statement These results represent a strong start to Home Retail Group s new life as an independent company. They are particularly pleasing in a year during which we achieved the successful demerger from GUS plc and were faced with some difficult conditions in our markets. In presenting Home Retail Group s first annual report to shareholders, I am delighted to report a successful trading performance over the past year. I am pleased to highlight that we have achieved a 10% share of the 58 billion home and general merchandise market, extending our leading position. This has been delivered through the successful combination and leverage of Argos and Homebase, two distinctive, complementary retail brands that are household names in the UK. We have also successfully demerged from GUS plc to become a standalone FTSE 100 company. Financial performance The results you will see in this report cover periods both before and after the demerger. They include certain financial impacts of GUS ownership of our business up to the point of demerger. The most recent reported statutory results also cover a shorter period than a full year, due to a change in our year-end. We have therefore included pro forma measures to provide greater comparability. On a pro forma basis, sales grew by 6% to 5,851m, benchmark operating profit by 8% to 359.4m, pre-tax profit by 12% to 376.7m and earnings per share by 14% to 29.3p. The improvement in year-end net cash to 60m, against a pro forma net debt of 200m at 31 March 2006, includes the effect of strong working capital management and improved profit performance, together with an approximate 100m benefit as a result of the change in year-end. Your Board is recommending a final dividend of 9.0p per Home Retail Group share, making 13.0p for the year. This trading performance represents a strong start to Home Retail Group s life as an independent company and is, I believe, particularly commendable for having been achieved in the face of difficult market conditions. Strategy for growth As presented at the time of demerger, we have a very clear strategy for driving the growth of our business. We believe our extensive product portfolio, market leadership and purchasing scale provide us with opportunities to develop our product range and offering in core areas. This also allows us to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective sourcing of products and services. We intend to use the strength of the Argos and Homebase brands, the flexibility of their formats and the advantage of their shared infrastructure to increase our market share in targeted large product markets. We are also planning to broaden our customer reach through the opening of around 30 new Argos stores and 15 new Homebase stores a year. The combined Argos and Homebase portfolios are already approaching 1,000 stores. Finally, we will extend and exploit our leadership in the multi-channel service pioneered so successfully by Argos - combining stores, Internet and telephone ordering and home delivery, to provide the highest level of convenience. Over one-third of all Argos sales are now ordered and delivered across more than one channel, and we are also using our skill and scale to support Homebase s multi-channel development. Underpinning all of this is a strong commitment to customers which is an important driver of financial performance in the retail sector. Through Argos and Homebase, Home Retail Group works hard to provide the highest quality of service. Argos now has more than 1,000 quick pay kiosks across its store portfolio
7 05 Strengthening the team At the time of the demerger we were fortunate to have John Coombe and Andy Hornby join the Board of Home Retail Group. I am also delighted to welcome Penny Hughes as a further non-executive director. Penny, who joined in December 2006, has a wealth of experience in retail and consumer marketing and is already proving a strong addition to the Board. One of the strengths of Home Retail Group is the experience of its management team, without which the transition period to a public company would undoubtedly have been more difficult. We are therefore particularly grateful to our group human resources director, Mike Sibbald, who, after providing the Group with 11 years of commitment, expertise and guidance, supported the business through the demerger prior to his retirement in April I am very pleased to welcome David Guise as his successor, who joins us from Diageo. Corporate responsibility We continue to make good progress in the management of the complex environmental, ethical and social issues that affect our business. For example, we are moving forward in delivering against stretching recycling targets across the business and in reducing energy consumption. You will find more information about our approach to corporate responsibility later in this report. Home Retail Group plays an active role in community activities, supporting charities and working directly with local and national projects. Taking part in these activities is popular with our colleagues, who feel that they are contributing to their communities and that the Group is supporting them in doing so. Looking forward These strong results, delivered in a challenging market and while going through a successful demerger process, are further testament to our colleagues dedication led by chief executive, Terry Duddy. I would therefore like to thank Terry and the team for their hard work throughout the year. Home Retail Group currently employs some 53,000 people across the business. The performance of our business rests upon the passion and commitment of all our colleagues. I am therefore extremely pleased that over 30,000 employees are now shareholders in Home Retail Group and are able to share in the Group s long term success. Home Retail Group is approaching the new financial year from a position of operational strength. This, together with our strategy for growth, means that we are well placed to make further progress in what we expect to be another challenging year. Oliver Stocken Chairman Oliver Stocken Chairman HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Chairman s Statement
8 06 Business Review > Strategy & Progress 2% 27% 71% Group sales 2007 (%) Argos Homebase Financial Services We are pleased to report that both Argos and Homebase have performed well, benefiting from the shared infrastructure and capabilities of the Group while continuing to invest for future growth. The combination of a strong operational performance, together with a clear strategy for growth, means we are well positioned and confident of making further progress in what we expect to be another challenging year for UK consumer spending. 1% 14% Terry Duddy Chief Executive 85% Group benchmark operating profit 2007 (%) Argos Homebase Financial Services This data is on a 52-week pro forma basis Home Retail Group s vision is to be a leading retailing group that delivers long-term, sector-leading sales and profit growth. We will do this by leveraging our combined strengths to support our retail brands Argos and Homebase. Key elements of this strategy are: developing world-class, low cost sourcing capabilities that enables Home Retail Group to deliver even greater value to customers; and delivering end-to-end solutions that give our customers convenient ways to order, pay for and obtain the goods we sell. The corporate objective of Home Retail Group is to deliver sustainable returns for all its stakeholders. Our aim is to deliver growth in total shareholder return that at least matches the top quartile of comparable listed companies over the medium to long-term. Home Retail Group aims to achieve this by delivering sales and profit growth throughout the group, supported by investment programmes that give returns in excess of our cost of capital. We recognise that these objectives can be affected in the short-term by external economic, social and political factors. However, we believe that consistent investment in businesses with competitive advantage will provide sustainable returns to stakeholders. We also plan to grow dividends for shareholders broadly in line with earnings, subject to the investment needs of the business and an acceptable level of dividend cover. We will seek to maintain an appropriate capital structure, financing our operations through a combination of retained profits, bank borrowings and property leases. We aim to act responsibly and ethically towards all of our stakeholders, including our customers, colleagues, suppliers and business partners and the communities around us. Our approach to corporate responsibility is summarised later in the Business Review. We believe that this approach will assist Home Retail Group in achieving its objectives for shareholder return. Home Retail Group is the number one retailer of housewares in the UK
9 07 Nature of business Home Retail Group is the UK s leading home and general merchandise retailer with pro forma annual sales of over 5.8 billion. It sells products under two distinctive and complementary retail brands, Argos and Homebase, which are both household names in the UK. Argos is a unique retailer recognised for choice, value and convenience. It sells over 17,000 general merchandise products for the home, all of which are set out in its twice-yearly 1,700 page catalogue which is at the heart of its proposition. Customers can purchase products through its network of 680 stores, online and over the phone, with the option of picking up their purchases from a store or having them delivered direct. Argos Internet site, is the second most visited Internet retail site in the UK. Argos serves over 130 million customers per year through its stores and takes 4 million customer orders per year either online or over the phone. On average, 17 million UK households, or around twothirds of the population, have an Argos catalogue at home at any time. Homebase is the UK s second largest home improvement retailer and is recognised for choice, style and customer service across the wider home enhancement market. It has 310 large, out-of-town stores, which sell over 30,000 products, as well as a growing Internet offering. It also offers its customers the convenience of home delivery for bulky, high value items. Homebase serves over 70 million customers per year through its stores. Argos and Homebase are supported by an in-house financial services business, which provides a range of credit and insurance products to their customers through all customer facing channels of stores, online and over the phone. Home Retail Group Financial Services is one of the largest store card providers in the UK, with over one million active store card customers. Home Retail Group has a leading 10% share of the home and general merchandise market in the UK, giving it significant purchasing scale and the opportunity to further increase market share. This scale, combined with its global sourcing skills, ensures value for the customer whilst supporting profitability. The shared infrastructure in the Group provides support for Argos and Homebase s customer propositions, reduces their overall operating costs and enables speedy development of profitable routes to growth. This has enabled the Group to increase its market share in a competitive retail market place. Markets in which we operate Home Retail Group operates in the growing general merchandise and home enhancement markets in the UK and Eire. According to leading research sources in 2006, the UK general merchandise market had sales of 26 billion and the home enhancement market had sales of 32 billion. The categories and the overlap between the Argos and Homebase businesses are summarised in the following table: Product markets Argos Homebase Group position Market size Home Enhancement Housewares Number 1 8.9bn Furniture Number 1 8.4bn Home Improvement Number bn (DIY/fitted kitchens/bathrooms) Horticulture, Garden Furniture Number 2 3.1bn and Outdoor Living General Merchandise Small Domestic Appliances Number 1 1.4bn Consumer Electronics Number bn Large Domestic Appliances Number 3 4.0bn Toys Number 1 1.8bn Jewellery Number 1 3.1bn Sports and Leisure Equipment Number 1 1.2bn Note: all market positions are for calendar year 2006 and by retail sales value except jewellery, which is measured by volume. HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Strategy & Progress
10 08 Our leading market positions provide significant purchasing scale which help contribute to excellent value for the customer. For example, Home Retail Group is the UK s leading retailer of housewares, furniture, small domestic appliances, sports and leisure equipment, jewellery and toys. We are also the UK s second largest retailer of home improvement goods and gardenrelated products, and the third largest retailer of consumer electronics and large domestic appliances. Many products are sold through both the Argos and Homebase businesses. Home Retail Group sold more than a quarter of a million televisions in the run up to the 2006 World Cup
11 Business Review > Strategy & Progress continued 09 Competitive position Home Retail Group faces competition from many players in many different product categories. They can be summarised as: specialist multiples, such as B&Q in home improvement, Currys and Comet in consumer electronics and domestic appliances, Woolworths in toys and wider general merchandise and H. Samuel in jewellery; specialist independents, such as regional and local chains selling single product ranges, such as toys and jewellery. With some exceptions, this group of competitors is generally losing share; supermarkets, such as Tesco, J Sainsbury and ASDA, which have been growing share in certain parts of the non-food, non-clothing market, building on their regular footfall and the increased space given to these ranges; and online retailers. Currently represent only a small but growing share of the non-food, non-clothing market. Home Retail Group s markets are expected to continue to be highly competitive. Our leading market position, together with our successful formats (such as using catalogues and mezzanines, for example), may represent attractive opportunities for some of our competitors. By leveraging the strengths of our businesses and by delivering on our strategy for growth, the Board believe that Home Retail Group will continue to strengthen its competitive position. Key strengths The Board believe that Home Retail Group s key strengths include: Strong retail brands with large customer bases The Group operates two of the UK s strongest retail brands with Argos being the leading general merchandise retailer and Homebase being the second largest home improvement retailer. Although there is some overlap between their customer bases, each business is strong in distinct consumer segments. The two retail brands allow the Group to reach a broad range of customers in the UK and to present similar product ranges to them in two different shopping environments, thus maximising the opportunity to increase market share. Market-leading position Sales of over 5.8 billion in the last full financial year ranked Home Retail Group as the leading home and general merchandise retailer in the UK. The Group has market-leading positions in a wide range of product categories: it is the UK s leading retailer of housewares, furniture, small domestic appliances, toys, jewellery and sports and leisure equipment. It is also the UK s second largest retailer of home improvement goods and garden related products and third largest retailer of consumer electronics and large domestic appliances. Purchasing, sourcing and supply chain scale Home Retail Group s market-leading position means it has the scale of merchandise procurement that enables it to develop important and long-term relationships with suppliers. This leads to enhanced cost benefits and the ability to source exclusive products or to obtain advantageous quantities of products that are in short supply. These scale efficiencies and supplier relationships have been used by the Group to deliver value for money to consumers across the broad range of products it sells, while supporting profitability in a highly competitive market place. The Board believe that Home Retail Group s scale, sourcing advantage and supply chain infrastructure will be a key determinant of its long-term success in the UK retail market. 34% 16% Group sales mix 50% Home enhancement Electrical goods Toys, jewellery, sports and leisure equipment 23% 46% Argos sales mix Home enhancement Electrical goods Toys, jewellery, sports and leisure equipment 5% 31% 33% 40% 22% Homebase sales mix DIY/decorating Gardening Other home enhancement Other This data is on a 52-week pro forma basis 27% 27% 27% 71% 71% 71% HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Strategy & Progress
12 Business Review > Strategy & Progress continued , % 7.0% , ,313 5,510 4, Sales - continuing operations ( m) Argos Homebase Financial Services Sales increased at both Argos and Homebase in the year, despite some difficult market conditions Number of stores 7.9% % Argos Homebase Expanding the store networks is a key driver of growth, with a further 38 stores added in the year % Benchmark operating profit ( m) and margin (%)-continuing operations Argos Homebase Financial Services Central Activities The increase in operating profit in the year reflects both a strong operational and financial performance 0 Choice and value-led product offering Home Retail Group s proposition is to offer customers choice and value across a wide range of products. Argos offers a breadth of product categories and a level of choice within each product market that the Board consider is not equalled by any UK competitor. As a catalogue based retailer, Argos is able to present a very broad range of products to its customers cost effectively. Homebase also offers a wide choice within the product ranges that it sells. Under Home Retail Group ownership, Homebase has broadened its product offering to encompass products that were already being sold by Argos and has significantly improved the range of products it sells as well as the level of availability within its stores. Integrated multi-channel offering The fully integrated nature of Argos multi-channel offering differentiates it from almost all of its UK retail competitors. A fully integrated multichannel retail offering requires the support of a substantial and highly complex supply chain system, which the Board believe is difficult for competitors to replicate. Within Argos, regardless of whether the customer has made a purchase in store, online or over the phone, and irrespective of which delivery method the customer prefers, the overall experience is integrated and considered highly efficient by customers. Home Retail Group is positioned to benefit from continued strong growth in retail Internet sales, as the Internet is an integral part of its multi-channel offering and therefore fully supported by the Group s supply chain infrastructure. This multi-channel capability is also increasingly a source of competitive advantage for Homebase. These products are delivered using the Group ordering and home delivery infrastructure. In addition, the Argos online capability has been leveraged to provide Homebase with a cost-efficient, transactional Internet site providing a range of home-related products to the Homebase customer. Shared infrastructure and logistics expertise Argos and Homebase derive significant competitive advantage from their ability to leverage a shared infrastructure in the Group. This infrastructure supports their brand propositions, reduces their overall operating costs and increases the speed with which each business can develop profitable routes to growth. It has enabled the Group businesses to enter new product categories quickly and cost effectively and to rapidly build market share. Key areas of shared infrastructure include: global sourcing operations, supplier management and related services and processes; home delivery services; customer service operations; catalogue production; financial services; and other support functions including property and information systems. Experienced management team delivering a long-term track record of growth Home Retail Group s management team includes a wealth of experience of service, built from both within the Group and across the wider retail sector. As well as a long-term track record of growth, the management team has successfully restructured the Group while at the same time integrating the Homebase business. Argos has a long-term track record of growth under the existing management. Since the financial year of the acquisition by GUS plc on 31 March 1999, sales have grown from 1.9 billion to 4.2 billion and operating profit before exceptional items has increased from 122m to 325m for the year to 3 March Following its acquisition, Homebase s total sales have been increased by 13% between 2004 and onwards under IFRS 06 and 07 are on a 52-week pro forma basis
13 11 Home delivery provides convenience for the customer and underpins the Group s strategy to increase market share in a number of product markets including furniture, sports and leisure equipment, large consumer electronics, large domestic appliances, kitchens and bathrooms. Making over seven million deliveries a year, equivalent to one in six UK homes, Home Retail Group is the largest non-food retailer by number of deliveries. We do this through five dedicated warehouses covering space of over two million square feet, and for larger goods via our fleet of Argosowned delivery vehicles. Home Retail Group uses a fleet of delivery vehicles to ensure swift delivery of products to Homebase and Argos customers HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Strategy & Progress
14 12 Business Review > Strategy & Progress continued Strategy for growth Home Retail Group seeks to take advantage of four factors to drive sustainable growth. 1. Leverage extensive product portfolio, market leadership and purchasing scale by: building upon market leading positions by enhancing and developing both the product range and the offering in core areas using shared scale and expertise in sourcing and logistics as well as joint product ranges to provide value for money and wide choice Our businesses have continued to carry out extensive range reviews, introducing thousands of new products over the last year. The level of direct importing has grown to over 28% of Group sales. Nearly half of this is now being sourced directly from the manufacturer by the Group s overseas buying offices. This represents more than 5,000 products across Argos and Homebase. 2. Increase market share in targeted large product markets by: capitalising upon the strength of the Argos and Homebase brands to identify opportunities in product markets (particularly large, fragmented markets) utilising the inherent flexibility of the Argos and Homebase formats using shared infrastructure efficiently to make these products available to customers quickly and easily Argos and Homebase have this year both expanded their trials of furniture and housewares catalogues in order to extend the Group s leading position in these fragmented markets. The growth in sales of furniture and other large products will see the Group start work in the current financial year on its fourth two-man home delivery warehouse. Homebase s utilisation of the shared supply chain and home delivery infrastructure has brought it the scale and cost advantage of the UK s largest home delivery operation of large, bulky products. 3. Expand Argos and Homebase s store networks by: opening approximately 30 Argos stores per year opening approximately 15 Homebase stores per year, with a further small number of existing Homebase stores also supporting a mezzanine level The Group s store base is approaching 1,000 stores and we continue to see the opportunity over time for Argos to exceed 800 stores and Homebase to exceed 450 stores. We also continue to develop formats and store presentations in both businesses, and run property as a central function for leverage and space management opportunities. 4. Extend and exploit multi-channel leadership by: driving incremental sales growth over and above that which is achieved through new store openings continuing with a customer focused, fully integrated approach to ensure that whether customers shop with Argos in store, online or over the phone they are able to find, order and receive goods seamlessly across the different channels leveraging skills, scale and infrastructure to support the Homebase proposition The leadership of Argos in terms of fully integrated multi-channel convenience is such that over one-third of its sales are ordered and delivered across more than one channel. Skills and ecommerce infrastructure at Argos have led to the re-launch of the Homebase website which is growing sales strongly and profitably. Both businesses also benefit from our in-house financial services business which provides appropriate credit offers to drive product sales and is fully enabled across all customer channels.
15 13 Sourcing, supply chain and distribution infrastructure are critical to the efficiency of a world class retailer. We have more than 4,000 employees in these functions, including around 150 in overseas buying offices. More than 30% of Argos sales are directly imported from overseas, and over 20% for Homebase. We receive over 45,000 containers a year, and have over five million square feet of distribution space that receive all goods, before transportation to around 1,000 stores. Argos has been the No.1 toy retailer in the UK for the last 13 years HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Strategy & Progress
16 14 Business Review > Strategy & Progress in 2007 continued Factors affecting performance The principal factor that affects performance is UK consumer spending. Over the long-term, growth of the general merchandise and home enhancement market is expected to continue to be driven by factors including: increasing number of households; rising overall household disposable income; technology change and development; falling prices of necessary items such as food and clothing leaving consumers with more discretionary spend for home and leisure-related products; and expanding sources of low cost supply which will stimulate further consumer expenditure across these product categories. The UK retail market is, however, undergoing significant change. This change is in part driven by the recent slowdown in consumer spending, but is underpinned by an overall structural shift in favour of large scale retailers such as Home Retail Group. This has led to an increasingly competitive market where scale, value and cost management are believed to be the key determinants of success. Retailers that cannot offer a differentiated service or shopping experience and are unable to compete with the large scale retailers on price are likely to continue to underperform, with some being forced to exit the market as has been seen over recent years. The Board believe that there are opportunities for the Group to benefit from the weakness of other retailers, by continuing to take market share as a result of structural changes in the retail market. The Board believe that market conditions in the UK are likely to remain challenging during the 2007 calendar year and possibly beyond, particularly for discretionary, high value or housingrelated product categories. It is anticipated that the future underlying volume and value growth rates for most product markets, although positive, will be below the levels seen in the last five years. However, within this there will continue to be areas of relatively higher growth, either due to new product innovation or consumers need to renew or replace existing products. The Board believe that Home Retail Group is well positioned to take advantage of these higher growth markets. Additionally, the Group also has leading positions in many fragmented markets where the Board expect that both Argos and Homebase can continue to increase market share. With its strong brands, wide choice across a broad range of products markets, multichannel offering, strong retail credit propositions and ability to open new stores, the Board believe that Home Retail Group is well positioned to trade through any continued cyclical retail downturn and to successfully benefit from renewed consumer confidence through the cycle. The support provided to the business by its purchasing scale, global sourcing capability, supply chain infrastructure, and the shared service platform further underpins the competitive position of the Group within the UK retail market.
17 Business Review > Principal Risks & Uncertainties 15 There are a number of risks and uncertainties which could impact the performance of the Group. The Group operates a structured risk management process which identifies, evaluates and prioritises risks and uncertainties and reviews mitigation activity. Further information on the risk management process can be found on page 45 of the Corporate Governance Statement, reference to risk is also made throughout the Business Review. The principal risks and uncertainties are set out below: Area of potential risk / uncertainty Outline Examples of mitigating activity Sales growth Delivering sales growth impacted by: Choice and value-led product offering Economic conditions Driving market share growth in high Consumer preferences headroom product categories Competitor activity Multi-channel development Seasonality Store service standards Expansion and development of Development of delivery proposition store networks Property pipeline Mezzanine investment and format enhancement Profit growth Increase in product and operating Purchasing, sourcing and supply-chain costs including: scale leveraging Cost of raw materials Forward fixed contractual supply General level of inflation agreements Property / energy / labour costs Cost productivity initiatives Product supply Delay or interruptions in the supply of Product substitution planning products from third-party suppliers including Management of supplier relationships products sourced overseas. Improvements in planning process Business interruption Failure or unavailability of operational Business continuity planning and IT infrastructure. IT recovery plans Delay or interruptions in the services Key third-party supplier management provided by third-party suppliers. Infrastructure development / projects Delay or failure to manage and implement Project management major business and infrastructure Board review of status / progress projects effectively. Post project implementation reviews People Reliance on key personnel. Succession planning Competitive remuneration packages Management development and training programmes Regulatory environment Changes in UK and European legislation Engagement with government and and regulation e.g. consumer protection, regulators directly and through environmental regulation. industry representative groups Changes in UK fiscal / employment policy e.g. minimum wage. Currency Purchase of products in currencies other than Forecasting currency requirements sterling, principally the US dollar and the euro. Hedging policy HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Principal Risks & Uncertainties
18 16 Business Review > Argos ,000 13,300 11, ,200 17, Number of lines in the main catalogue (Spring/Summer) Argos customers have the choice of over 17,000 lines via its catalogue % of sales across more than one channel The multi-channel convenience of Argos has become even more popular in the last year % of sales ordered via Internet Argos was again the most visited high street retail website during the year 05 onwards under IFRS 06 and 07 are on a 52-week pro forma basis Business Reviews To assist with analysis and comparison, the following business reviews are based upon pro forma information. The basis of preparation of pro forma restatements is set out on page 26. Argos - operational review As the UK s leading general merchandise retailer, Argos provides a highly successful and unique offer of choice, value and convenience. Further market share gains achieved. With sales growing 8% to 4.2 billion, Argos continued to extend its share of the overall home and general merchandise market. Argos was named as the UK s biggest furniture retailer by Verdict Research. Once again, Argos was the number one toy retailer in the UK for 2006, and increased its lead over the second player according to NPD Group. Share gains also continued within other categories, including the broad electrical goods category. More catalogue prices lowered. The price reduction on reincluded lines in the Spring/Summer 2007 catalogue is approximately 3%. Argos has lowered prices on reincluded lines in every catalogue since 1999 to constantly reinforce its value proposition for customers. Prices lowered further during life of catalogue. Argos employs a dynamic pricing approach, continuing to lower around 20% of prices during the sixmonth life of the catalogue. Since the launch of the current catalogue in January, over 3,000 prices have been lowered. Prices are either lowered permanently or through a series of promotions throughout the year with between 500 and 1,000 prices typically cut each time. In addition to television, newspaper and online promotional messaging, every month up to 10 million flyers or brochures are delivered to homes to further communicate price reductions. A unique facility also allows customers to use text messaging to check both the latest price as well as the stock level in an individual store, and then to reserve goods for immediate or later collection. Widest ever customer choice. The current Argos catalogue offers over 17,000 lines across all stores and channels. Since national roll-out of the additional Argos Extra ranges, awareness of the wider offering has continued to build. At the end of the financial period, there were 238 stores that stocked-in the additional 3,000 lines; this is an increase of nearly 50 stores compared to the same time last year and is driven by a roughly equal mix of new stores and existing store conversions. All the remaining stores offer customers the option to either order-in for later collection from store or to have goods delivered to home. Argos Home catalogue trial extended. The latest edition of this separate catalogue was in 228 stores by the end of the period. It features 348 pages and 3,200 products, with over 100 new lines now exclusive to this catalogue. Research has shown that the Home catalogue is helping Argos further define itself as the clear market leader, raise awareness and increase quality perception. The catalogue is supported in store with a comprehensive marketing package and a virtual brochure on the Internet. Multi-channel leadership further strengthened. Internet orders grew 45% to represent over 16% of total Argos sales; online reservations for later collection in store now represent over half of this, and grew 60% in the year. A further 8% of total sales are via telephone or text. In addition, of the 22% of total sales that are delivered to home, around half of these are still ordered in store. Together, this means that over onethird of all Argos sales are ordered or received by customers using more than one channel. In the recent Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards, was the second most visited site within the Shopping & Classifieds category, behind only Amazon and therefore ahead of all other UK retailers. Argos was also the third most searched for brand during 2006, behind only ebay and Bebo.
19 17 Argos multi-channel offering is a major point of differentiation. Developed over many years and supported by a high level of capital and resource investment, multi-channel at Argos means an experience that is fully integrated and considered highly efficient by customers. With the ability to see the stock levels of all goods in every single store, customers can use the Internet, telephone or store itself to reserve products for collection. Similarly, through all channels, customers also have the opportunity to order any product for delivery to home. Argos is the UK s leading supplier of artificial Christmas trees, while Homebase is the leading supplier of real trees HOME RETAIL GROUP Annual Report 07 > Business Review > Argos
20 18 Business Review > Argos continued ,164 3, ,652 3,384 3, Argos sales ( m) Argos has added over 1 billion to annual sales in the last four years (1.4) Argos sales trend (% change) Like-for-like New space Argos produced good like-for-like growth as well as a further sales contribution from new stores Home delivery convenience enhanced. Argos Direct is the largest two-man delivery infrastructure in the UK, with around five million products delivered in the last year. Using a fleet of around 800 vehicles, it now makes deliveries in three slots across the day morning, midday and afternoon. This leading level of service also includes drivers calling ahead to customers to confirm delivery. Argos delivery of smaller products through the third-party provider Home Delivery Network is also now operated on morning or afternoon delivery slots. Argos Direct is completing its roll out of a new warehouse management solution. Originally implemented at the purposebuilt Faverdale distribution centre near Darlington that was opened in 2005, the system has now been implemented in Marsh Leys, with a final roll out to Acton Gate beginning shortly. The system is bringing benefits in terms of enhanced operational efficiency, improved order accuracy levels and reduced clerical work. New stores extending customer reach. There were 30 store openings and 5 store closures during the year, bringing the total at the end of the year to 680 stores. Of the 30 store openings, 3 were relocations and 10 were in new catchments, with the remainder being additional stores in an existing catchment. The openings included 26 Argos Extra stocked-in stores. Kiosks further improving customer convenience and efficiency. Average sales participation in stores with kiosks is now approximately 12%, with some stores reaching as high as 40%. There are now over 1,000 kiosks across just over half of the store portfolio. In-store operational improvements. The vast majority of stores carry the full 10,000 products that represent the core stocked-in range. Goods that are collected in store account for 78% of total sales. Ongoing improvements in the unique systems, processes and layouts of stockrooms have further enhanced customer choice, service and convenience. Infrastructure changes for network optimisation. In the financial year just begun, Argos will implement changes to its infrastructure that will lead to greater network optimisation and less complexity. The direct importing element of the Argos Direct home delivery operation will be moved from Corby to the purpose-built direct importing facility opened last year at Kettering. This will enable a rented central distribution facility at Wolverhampton to be closed, as its operations will be relocated to the capacity released at Corby. 8.0% % 8 8.8% 7.7% 7.8% Benchmark operating profit ( m) and margin (%)-continuing operations There was growth in profit and a small increase in the operating margin in the year 05 onwards under IFRS 06 and 07 are on a 52-week pro forma basis