Darty posted a pretax profit of
Darty, formerly known as
Since then, Darty has been restructuring the rest of its businesses in an attempt to turn them around and improve profitability. Over the last few years the company has shed some loss-making operations to streamline the business and save costs. It has also been investing heavily in bringing down its prices in response to competition from online retailers.
"We have seen overall market share gains, delivered positive like-for-like sales growth and improved our profit performance for the first time in three years," Chief Executive RÉgis Schultz said Thursday.
The company said the small domestic kitchen appliances market continues to grow well, while strong growth over the last few years in smartphones and tablets has offset declines in laptop sales and digital cameras.
It also said that the television market is beginning to stabilise after declining for the last few years, particularly in
The company said it expects overall market conditions to remain challenging in the year ahead, but said it is well placed to deliver growth.
"Our aim over the medium term is to build our market share in
The company maintained its total dividend for the year just ended at
"Our plan is to increase the dividend once we are confident that out turnaround plan is delivering sustainable profit growth and earnings growth. We also still have net debt of a
In a statement last month, Darty said its overall group gross profit margin was flat in the final quarter of its financial year, hit by promotional discounting, while revenue and like-for-like sales in its main French business were flat and gross margin fell. It said overall sales were hit by significant declines in its
Darty said Thursday that its business has improved, having eliminated losses in its non-core markets with the managed closure of
Going forward, Darty said that pressure to discount heavily has abated slightly in the last six months, which is beginning to ease the pressure off its margins.
"Over the last few years there has been some quite heavy pressure on our margins, partly from competition effects and partly because of investment and category mix... As we look forward we expect to see the pressure receding, especially as the investment in price will reduce, as we are now much more aligned competitively," said Platt.
The group classes its core markets as its businesses in
"If the right opportunity comes along, we will sell it. The businesses are very different to the businesses we sold in
During the year, the group's French subsidiary, Etablissements Darty et Fils, known as
"I am encouraged by the early results of our initiatives for future growth - the launch of our franchise business, building on the acquisition of Mistergooddeal.com and expanding our successful kitchen offer," said Schultz.
Darty is looking to expand into more rural areas of France and has launched a new franchise business model to try and accomplish this. It opened its first franchise store during the last year and expects to have around 30 stores open by the end of the current financial year. It plans to open between 100 and 150 stores over the next four years, with an average store revenue of at least
Darty said it also plans to expand its recent move into selling whole kitchens. It said it is planning a to introduce the kitchens into a further 11 stores by the end of the current financial year, with a medium term target for its kitchen offer to be in around 120 stores. Its kitchen offer is currently only in 55 stores.
In an attempt to improve its customer service, Darty is trialling a new concierge type service, which is a WiFi connected device which can be attached to products like a fridge. If pressed, Darty says that within one minute a representative from the company will phone the customer and help with any product problems or offer advice.
"It is a way to be modern and provide more options for our customers," Schultz told
The company said it is trialling the service before launching it in
During the year, Darty completed its
Darty shares were trading down 1.3% Thursday at
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