That sinking feeling
It's hard to cover Dixons Retail's quarterly earnings without coming away with a feeling of slow but consistent decline.
Today's figures reveal like-for-like sales were down ten percent in the UK for the 12 weeks ending 23 July, compared to the equivalent period a year ago. This was apparently in-line with internal and external expectations, but that doesn't mean it's good.
"This performance was in line with our expectations when compared with particularly strong trading last year as a result of the World Cup and launch of the iPad," said chief exec John Browett. Let's have a look at the results from a year ago. Total group sales were up three percent (down seven percent this year), but this was compared to a weak quarter the year before that, so Browett may be overstating the strength of last year's results somewhat.
Also, while the World Cup boost is a valid point, we have to question the significance of the iPad launch. Yes, there was a lot of hype and Apple shifted quite a few, but Apple sold twice as many iPads in the spring quarter of this year than it did in the same period last year - just look at Apple's own figures if you don't believe us.
"While underlying market conditions have remained challenging this year we have continued to trade ahead of our markets as customers respond to our improving customer offer," continued Browett.
"I am particularly pleased with the significant and ongoing improvements we have seen in customer satisfaction measures in the UK which demonstrate the success of our Renewal & Transformation plan, as well as our continued strong trading in the Nordics. We remain on track for full year expectations."
The renewal and transformation plan was announced back in May 2008 and in pretty much every quarterly earnings announcement since Browett has spoken about how happy he is with its progress. It's now more than three years down the line, and you have to wonder when this transformation will be deemed complete.
There certainly hasn't been too much for DSGi/Dixons Retail shareholders to cheer about in that time. Bar a brief nadir following the 2008 crash its current share price is hovering around its lowest ever level. There was a brief spike following the earnings announcement, but those gains have now been lost.