Home Retail, Britain's biggest household goods retailer, today upgraded its annual profit forecast for the second time in 2013 as sales at Argos continued to improve.
The group, which in January raised its full year profit forecast by £10m sterling to £83m, said today it now expects pretax profit to be around £90m.
The strong performance was driven by growth at Argos, which posted sales at stores open more than a year up 5.2% in the 8 weeks to March 2, its fourth quarter, ahead of analysts' consensus for a 2.1% rise.
Underlying sales at the group's Homebase division, Britain's number two home improvement retailer, fell 1.5% in the period, better than analysts' consensus for a 2.8% fall.
The sales uplift at Argos, which was underpinned by strong demand for tablets and electrical goods, builds on three quarters of improved trading and comes as the group tries to reposition it from a catalogue-led business to a digital one to help reverse falling profits.
Underlying sales at Argos for the 52 weeks to March 2 were up 2.1%, with total sales of around £3.9 billion. At Homebase, which is also undergoing a revamp, underlying sales fell 4.9%, with total sales of around £1.4 billion.
Like many UK and Irish retailers, Home Retail Group has felt the pressure of consumers being squeezed by higher prices and muted wage growth, with Argos also facing big competition from online rivals and supermarkets.
As part of a turnaround plan aimed at growing its sales by 15% to £4.5 billion by 2018, Argos is focused on online, mobile and tablet transactions to attract shoppers.