Dixons Carphone boss calls for UK to remain in single market

Dixons Carphone chief executive Sebastian James has urged the UK to stay in the single market after the vote to leave the EU.

Speaking on the day that the retailer announced a 17 per cent rise in pre-tax profits and also unveiled its new 6,000 square foot flagship ‘3-in-1’ Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse store on London’s Oxford Street, Mr James said: “I think access to the single market is really, really critical and it’s something that everybody would like to have – we must all passionately and urgently push it as an agenda. It’s the obvious and sensible way forward and I’m optimistic that’s where we’ll end up.”

Mr James was also positive about the future of the electrical retailing market and told ERT: “In the last five days since the referendum result was announced, our trading is up year-on-year – I think it’s very unlikely we’re going to see a collapse.

“People are still buying TVs and washing machines. I don’t know what the long-term effect will be, but, on the whole, we tend to ride with the economy – if it’s down, the market’s down. If it does slowdown, then so be it – it’s happened before and it’s not the end of the world.”

Mr James added: “We obviously had an unexpected [referendum] result on Friday morning. There was deterioration in some of the exchange rates, which then calmed down later in the day, and then we saw ours and a number of other stock [share] prices get pummelled, as the markets reacted fairly dramatically to what they feared might be quite a extreme impact on our business.

“We have come out of a year in which we announced a 17.3 per cent growth in our earnings and we made nearly half a billion pounds of profit last year – we have a very strong balance sheet. In a world where there is turbulence, fortune favours the strong and the brave.

Dixons 3-in-1 flagship Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse shop on Oxford Street, London
Dixons 3-in-1 flagship Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse shop on Oxford Street, London

“For a few years, we have experienced turbulence – both in the UK and in Greece – and every time that this business and this team have encountered turbulence, we have sailed through that storm and come out of the other side stronger, more profitable, bigger and with better customer satisfaction.”

Dixons Carphone’s underlying pre-tax profits for the year to April 30 rose to £447m from £381m. Group like-for-like revenues were up five per cent, with turnover at £9.7bn.

The UK and Ireland accounted for £6.4bn in sales – six per cent higher on a like-for-like basis.

On the retailer’s future plans, Mr James said: “We have very ambitious plans this year which include making every one of the former Dixons stores one of the new 3-in-1 shops, introducing a lively and interactive new e-commerce platform to Carphone Warehouse, opening Europe’s most modern distribution centre in Sweden, introducing same-day delivery, rolling out 150 new stores in the US with Sprint, delivering our honeyBee platform to major global clients, launching our new home services division with a mandate to become a true emergency service for customers across the UK, and continuing to drive market share, price competitiveness and customer satisfaction everywhere. It is likely to be busy.”