Dixons Carphone to repay furlough money as online sales soar
Firm to close airport shops, blaming govt for scrapping tax-free shopping
British retailer Dixons Carphone said it was repaying £73m in government furlough money after online sales of electrical goods more than doubled in the year to April 25 offsetting the impact of store closures during the Covid lockdowns.
The company also announced it was closing its travel business after the government’s decision to axe duty-free shopping from January 1. Airport outlets historically generated annual profits of £20m, but Dixons said it did not expect passenger numbers to recover sufficiently to compensate for the policy change.
Britain's Treasury said the decision brought personal duty and tax systems in line with international standards, but now means the UK as the only country in Europe that does not have a tax-free shopping scheme for international visitors.
Dixons on Wednesday said it expected full-year adjusted pre-tax profit to be broadly in line with consensus forecast of £151m after repaying the government cash. Online growth continued in all markets with group electricals online sales rising to more than £4.5bn for the year and 12% in the 25 weeks to April 24.
The company, which also owns Currys PC World, shuttered most of its stores in the UK and Ireland during the lockdowns with tighter curbs on trading in the Nordic region. Non-essential retail stores in England and Wales reopened on April 12.
Medium-term guidance was retained, with the group on track to deliver its cumulative free cash flow target of more than £1bn over 2019/20 to 2023/24.
In 2021/22 the group expects to end the year in a net cash position with capital expenditure of around £190m and exceptional cash costs of around £130m including the duty-free store closures.