GUS delivers catalogue of good results

The conglomerate is expected to publish preliminary figures that will be at the top-end of market predictions, which will relieve many investors who have seen stock markets continue to slide.

The FTSE-100 company has been boosted by the recent acquisition of DIY chain store Homebase for £900m as well as strong growth from its main three businesses, Experian, Argos and Burberry.

Argos in particular has done very well for GUS. The chain of stores that offers cut price products from catalogues, saving floor space and therefore money, saw its sales exceed £3bn pounds for the first time this year.

In the second half of the year, sales at Argos grew 14%, outstripping its rivals.

In addition to its 523 stores – an extra 21 opened in the six months to the end of March – the group also comprises Argos Additions, its fashion brand, online entertainment retailer, and the newly-acquired Homebase.

With the DIY chain providing an operating profit of £100m for the twelve months to 28 February 2003, Homebase looks like providing a significant increase to the bottom line.

Fashion label Burberry has in many respects done even better. GUS still owns a 77% stake in the company despite a recent partial IPO. With the group showing an increase in sales of 22% over the last six months, including a 55% growth in retail sales, the company looks to have been wise in holding on to so much of the group.

Experian, the financial company that offers customers details on credit ratings, has also seen a strong performance with worldwide sales showing a rise of 15%.

All of this will be music to the ears of financial director David Tyler when the full-year results are made available on 28 May.

Co-ordinating the finances of such a diverse range of businesses is no simple task but it seems that the money has still been made available for the group to be able to go out and get hold of promising companies when required.

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