Homebase and Flying Brands blame economy and weather for difficult start to year

The Homebase and Gardening Direct brands have reported a slow start to the year.

Homebase owner Home Retail Group has reported a iike-for-like sales dip of 0.6% at its 349-store DIY/garden centre chain in the final eight-week trading period for the financial year ending 27 February 2010.

HRG chief executive Terry Duddy said: "The final short trading period reported today saw volatile trading patterns, making it difficult to assess any changes in underlying consumer demand. For the new financial year, we continue to plan cautiously given the uncertain economic outlook, but do so from our position of operational and financial strength."

Homebase had sales of £205m for the eight weeks and £1,572m for the year, up 2.1% like-for-like.

Meanwhile, in separate results announced today, Flying Brands, which includes Gardening Direct and Garden Bird Supplies, saw like-for-like revenue in its garden division up 6% to £15.89m, with operating profit, excluding one-off redundancy and reorganisation costs, up to £1.81m (2008: £1.31m).

Chairman Tim Trotter said: "The gardening sector as a whole has, we believe, had a difficult start to the year largely brought about by the bad weather to date. Sales so far this year have been behind management expectations but it is still very early in the season and we have been encouraged by our recruitment efforts to date. We have also been pleased with the launch of our new value brand - Jersey Bedding Plants."


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