1930 - 1949
Charles Kalms opened the first Dixons photographic studio at 32 High Street, Southend. The business was incorporated as a private company called Dixon Studios Limited and registered on 27 October 1937 with share capital of £100. Charles Kalms had been selling advertising space on the London Underground when he met Michael Mindel, who had a small photographic studio in Oxford Street but was keen to expand. They became the first directors of the company. When the first studio opened in Southend, the shop front could accommodate a name of no more than six letters. The solution was found in the telephone directory - "Dixons" was short enough to fit over the door! Throughout the war years there was an unprecedented demand for portrait photography, particularly from service personnel and their families. The company flourished and set up seven studios in the London area. But by the end of the war, the market contracted as dramatically as it had expanded and the company was reduced to a single studio in Edgware, north London. But Stanley Kalms, who joined the business in 1948 at the age of 16, capitalised on the interest in photography which had resulted from the war. The company began advertising new and secondhand photographic products in the trade, local and national press. This laid the foundations for a mail order division, which coupled with "make your own terms" credit agreements, ensured that Dixons would become the number one photographic dealer.
1950 - 1959
In the 1950's Stanley Kalms, Charles's son, was quick to recognise the public's new-found interest in photography which had started during the war and was now growing rapidly. He persuaded his father to sell simple cameras and accessories. New and second-hand photographic products were heavily advertised in trade, local and national press. This marketing approach quickly laid the foundations for a mail order division which, coupled with 'make your own terms' credit agreements, ensured Dixons entered the 1950s as the number one photographic dealer in Britain. This market leadership was maintained and developed throughout the 1950s by offering competitively-priced products with quality service. Dixons expanded so rapidly in 1957 it was forced to find a new head office to accommodate the growing number of employees dealing with 60,000 mail order customers and provide administrative back-up for six stores. Soon the 20,000 sq ft premises in High Street, Edgware became a buying centre too when Stanley Kalms started regular trips to the Far East. He forged vital links with Japanese manufacturers who supplied Dixons directly with products often made to the company's own specification and sold under the brand name of 'Prinz'. Hard bargaining and bulk buying, predominantly in Japan, gave Dixons the competitive edge over its rivals.
1960 - 1969
in 1962 Dixons, by now with 16 branches, was listed on the London Stock Exchange under the name of Dixons Photographic Limited. A rapid expansion of the store portfolio followed throughout the 1960s, including the acquisition of major competitors Ascotts (1962) and Bennetts (1964) which added 13 and 29 retail outlets respectively to the Dixons chain. Dixons diversified in 1967 into developing and printing by taking control of an 85,000 sq ft colour processing laboratory in Stevenage, the most up-to-date in Europe at the time. Again mail order on a massive scale became key to the company's success. Japanese audio and hi-fi units were also introduced into the Dixons range.
1970 - 1979
Charles Kalms stood down as Chairman in 1971, and was succeeded by his son Stanley. Charles became Life President of the Group. In 1972, the 15 Wallace Heaton shops in the London area were acquired. The gradual reduction in the working week meant more leisure time for everyone. A number of Dixons stores included sports departments and photography as a hobby boomed, increasing sales of cameras year on year throughout the decade. The main Stevenage Distribution Centre opened in 1974, on a seven acre site with 163,000 sq ft of floor space, computerised control and conveyor belt stock handling. At the time it was the largest computerised warehouse in Europe. Charles Kalms died at the age of 80 in 1978.
1980 - 1989
In 1982 Dixons introduced Saisho own-brand products presenting an upmarket high technology image spanning audio, TV and video products. The Currys Group in 1984 was acquired adding 613 retail outlets to the Group together with Mastercare, the nationwide electrical appliance service organisation with 41 depots and 900 engineers. Also part of the deal was Bridgers, a chain of white and brown goods discount stores which formed the basis of today's Currys Superstores. Further acquisitions over the years have included a number of similar chains, such as Orbit and Greens. The Group acquired the Supasnaps chain of 337 specialist photo shops in 1986. In its 50th Anniversary year (1987), the Group acquired Silo, the US's third largest power retailer with 147 stores. The acquisition of Wigfalls in 1988 brought into the Group a further 106 shops, trading mainly in the Midlands and north of England. Dixons and Currys head office departments and support with John Clare appointed Managing Director, functions were integrated into a single entity, Dixons Stores Group. The two chains, however, retained separate brand identities. The film processing division was sold to its management in 1989.
The Group bought Vision Technology Group Ltd (VTA), which operated four PC World Superstores and a group of companies selling mail order PCs, peripherals, software and accessories to companies, educational institutions and private individuals. VTG's PC World Superstores were based in Croydon, Lakeside Retail Park at West Thurrock, Brentford and Staples Corner, north London. The Group sold VTG's mail order division and focused on the retail side of the business. The Group also sold Dixons US Holdings Inc, Silo's parent company, to Fretter Inc in which it retained a 30 per cent stake. Supasnaps was sold to Sketchley plc.
In January John Clare was appointed Group Chief Executive. The Group announced the pilot of a new shopping format called The Link, which would sell the latest generation of communication services and products. The first Dixons tax-free store opened at Heathrow Terminal 3 in July. In December, the Group moved its head office from Ealing to new premises in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
The Group opened the largest electrical superstore in Europe - the 32,000 sq ft Currys Superstore at Junction 9 off the M6 in Birmingham. It also opened the fourth Dixons tax-free shop at Terminal 4, Heathrow, following the success of its other tax-free shops at Heathrow Terminals 1 and 2 and Gatwick South. PC World's portfolio expanded with further openings in a number of principal towns and cities in the UK.
Group Chairman Stanley Kalms was awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List in recognition of his services to electrical retailing. In April, Dixons became the first to sell the new Advanced Photographic System cameras. The Group acquired DN Computer Services plc (DNCS), the computer reseller business, which became part of the PC World division. DNCS enabled PC World to establish an even stronger position in the £3 billion business-to-business market. A £20 million expansion plan for the Stevenage Distribution Centre was announced which, when completed in August 1997, doubled its capacity. The Group opened the first out of town Dixons store at Fosse Park retail centre, Leicester and its first store in the Republic of Ireland.
The Group acquired the retail assets of Harry Moore Ltd, the Ireland-based electrical retailer. The Group strengthened its presence in Ireland, opening a third Dixons store in Dublin and the first PC World store (and the largest computer superstore) in the Republic. Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio Limited (Cellnet) bought a 40 per cent stake in The Link, Dixons' specialist mobile phone and communications retailer. The Group announced record profits of £190.2 million and launched PC World Business Direct, a new IT mail order service incorporating the brand strength of PC World and the sector expertise of DNCS. The nation's £8 billion a year obsession with electronic gadgetry was marked in October by the launch of 'Dixons Online' - the first electrical goods internet home-shopping service. Customers were offered guaranteed next-day delivery on mainland UK of over 2,000 products.
Dixons Online was given a facelift, taking web customers further into the future of customer technology. New e-commerce sites were launched including PC World Business Direct and PC World Software. The Group acquired Byte Computer Superstores Ltd with 16 retail outlets. The Group also continued its commitment to New Deal, announcing plans to take on a further 100 employees from the scheme. In July, the Group took on its first New Deal trainee in Scotland. At the year end, the Group announced full year pre-tax profits of £217.6 million and plans to open more than 100 new stores in 1998/99 creating around 2,000 additional jobs. Currys became the first electrical retailer to stock Plasma Flat TVs in widescreen format. Later in the year, Currys and Dixons were among the first retailers to sell Integrated Digital TVs. In September, the Group launched Freeserve, the UK's first fully-featured internet service available free with no registration or subscription fees.
In January, Dixons Group Retail Properties Limited was established to manage and develop the Group's retail portfolio. The Link sold its millionth mobile phone after just four years of trading. Freeserve also announced a milestone - its millionth subscriber. The lowest-priced PC ever offered by a UK retailer - at just £399 - went on sale at PC World, Dixons and Currys. Year end pre-tax profits of £237.1 million were announced alongside plans to create more jobs in the coming year. The Group also announced its intention to float 20% of Freeserve, and did so successfully two months later. Dixons Select was launched in October. This shopping channel was launched on Open, the first integrated digital television shopping service. In December the Group made an offer for leading Nordic electrical retailer, Elkjøp ASA. Within six weeks the deal was complete.
In January the Group announced the acquisition of Ei System, the leading specialist PC retailer in Spain and Portugal, to take advantage of the rapidly growing PC market in these countries.
March 2000 saw the opening of a state of the art customer contact centre in Sheffield, creating 2,000 new jobs.
European activity continued in April when the Group acquired a 15% stake in leading Greek electrical retailer, P.Kotsovolos, with stores in Greece and the Czech Republic.
The Group was named as the Company of the Year in the Sunday Times/Natwest Business Enterprise awards in June.
In July, the Group showed underlying profit before tax increasing by 11% to £263.7 million.
A strategic partnership was formed with eMachines, a leading supplier of PCs to the US market in August, making the Group the exclusive supplier of eMachine PCs to third party retailers in a number of European countries.
Omni Source, a new Group company was created to focus on the sourcing of own brand and directly sourced products for the Group's European retail market.
The Group continued to bring the latest technology to UK customers with the launch of digital radio (the Psion WaveFinder) and TiVo, the intelligent personal video recorder in October.
E-commerce development resulted in new websites for Currys and The Link and improved functionality on the PC World and Dixons Online sites in December.
In January the Group reported interim results showing profit before tax of £90.8 million. The sale of Freeserve to Wanadoo, part of France Telecom, enabled the Group to concentrate on its retail markets while taking a shareholding in a leading media company. The UK's largest online electrical superstore - currys.co.uk - was also launched in January.
In March PC World Business opened new headquarters in Bury, Lancashire to meet the growth in business demand for new technology.
In April the Group announced its sponsorship of the UK's first chair in entrepreneurship and innovation at Edinburgh University.
PC World launched the first ever 1GHz laptop by own brand Advent as well as the UK's first PC with a recordable DVD. In the same month Dixons reported that sales of digital cameras had outstripped traditional 35mm cameras for the first time.
Elkjøp acquired SuperRadio, creating Denmark's leading out of town electrical retailer.
The full year results in July showed underlying profit before tax increasing by 5% to £277.8 million. The Group announced its intention to create 1,300 new jobs over the 2001/02 financial year.
In July Sir John Collins was appointed a deputy chairman of the Group. The Board announced its intention that Sir John would succeed Sir Stanley Kalms as Group Chairman in September 2002.
In August Currys unveiled its new branding initiative, the "Currys - no worries" theme to coincide with a major TV advertising campaign focusing around "the Currys family".
In September the Group launched a new charitable campaign - "Health Matters" - to support a consortium of four health charities: Breast Cancer Campaign, The Stroke Association, The Prostate Cancer Charity and the MS Society.
In November, PC City in France boosted its online presence with the opening of two new superstores in Villebon and Plaisir, close to Paris.
In the same month, readers of the Sunday Telegraph judged Sir Stanley Kalms to be the Sunday Telegraph Chairman of the Year for his outstanding business career and his contribution to British retailing.
At the end of November, the Group acquired a 24% stake in Unieuro, a leading independent retailer of consumer electronics and domestic appliances in Italy.
Senior management changes at the beginning of the year reflected the Group's focus on growth in Europe and the UK.
The opening of the first Electroworld store in Budapest, Hungary, in the Spring attracted huge crowds and made the headlines in the Hungarian press. In September the Group opened its first PC City in Italy near Milan. A few weeks later, the Group purchased a further 72% stake in Unieuro, Italy's leading independent electrical retailer, taking its total holding to 96%.
Back in the UK, Dixons xL, the largest store in the chain, was opened in Cardiff City Centre. The 26,000 sq ft store, arranged over two floors, is ten times bigger than the average Dixons store.
At The Link, Newry, Ashling Kearney celebrated winning the best small store manager of the year award in the 2002 Retail Week honours in March.
Currys kicked off a major household safety drive in April. The Switched on to Safety campaign was designed to help cut the number of accidents involving electrical products.
The Group purchased mobile phone service provider Genesis Communications to develop its position in the business to business mobile communications market.
In June, the Group announced full year results showing underlying profit before tax up 7% at £297.2 million.
Chairman Sir Stanley Kalms was awarded two honorary degrees from Buckingham and Sheffield Universities. At the Group's AGM in September, Sir Stanley stepped down from the Board to become President. Sir John Collins succeeded him as Chairman.
The Link led two innovative campaigns. The Immobilise campaign was an initiative to crack down on mobile phone crime. It was the first of its kind, involving the police, the government and the mobile phone industry. The Group's crime prevention initiatives won special commendation at the Mobile Choice magazine awards. Community Fonebak was Britain's first nationwide mobile phone recycling scheme, helping to fund small charities and community shops.
Currys launched the Fridgesavers scheme in partnership with Powergen. Under this scheme householders claiming benefit were offered a brand new energy-efficient fridge or fridge-freezer at very low cost.
PC Servicecall, the Group's Nottingham-based call centre employed a group of Nordic nationals to provide dedicated technical support to home PC owners in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The team includes native speakers from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
In June the Group announced full year results showing underlying profit before tax up 1% to £301.3 million.
PC City opened its thirteenth Spanish store in Catalonia, north-west Spain. Sweden's first ever PC City store was opened in Sickla, Stockholm.
Back in the UK two Dixons xL stores were opened in Swansea and Birmingham to queues of 4,000 people each.
Sir Stanley Kalms, who became President of the Group last September, won the first ever lifetime achievement award at the 2003 Retail Week Awards. He was praised by judges for creating a culture of change, innovation and professionalism.
In February, the Group confirmed that PC City Spain was the first of its European investment businesses to move from trial status to expansion mode.
The Group became the founding retailer in ShopWatch - a crime reduction venture between the Metropolitan Police and retailers in which store staff can train as special constables. Dixons and The Link employees were the first to graduate. As a result, employees felt more confident and stock loss in participating stores was halved.
The Group announced a promotional partnership with AOL, the UK's leading online interactive services provider, where AOL dial-up software would be sold in PC World, Currys and Dixons and installed on all PCs sold through the stores.
A partnership with Napster was announced in May, with Napster 2.0 software installed on all own-brand PCs, and Napster music software and branded products stocked in all UK stores - the first ever partnership between an online music provider and high street electronics retailer.
The Mastercare IT Support Centre, which provides IT support for 4,000 aftersales service employees, was named 'Best Place to Work' for IT software, hardware and services by Computer Weekly Magazine.
The Group acquired Micro Warehouse, one of the UK's largest and longest established direct resellers of branded IT products and services to business.
The Group's new 100% recycled carrier bag won Best Environmental Initiative at the Plastics Industry Awards. By using recycled waste plastic, 1.8 tonnes of oil is saved for every tonne of bags produced.
In June the Group announced full year results showing underlying profit before tax up 11% to £331.6 million.
Strong results were received in a mystery shopping exercise to measure the success of the Group's in-store disability awareness training and access provision in advance of the introduction of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act.
The Group acquired a controlling stake of the issued share capital of Kotsovolos, the leading electrical retailer in Greece.
Group Chairman Sir John Collins was awarded with an honorary doctorate in Science from Reading University.
Currys reported positive feedback one year on from the launch of its television campaign "always cutting prices" featuring designer Linda Barker. Research showed 67% of consumers associated Currys with low prices, and 12% more shoppers visited stores.
Dixons returned to Britain's television screens for the first time in three years with a new campaign "the future for less", underpinning its position as the destination store for stylish, affordable new technology.
Group founder and President Sir Stanley Kalms was elevated to the House of Lords, becoming Lord Kalms.
More than £450,000 was raised for the 2004 Group Charity of the Year consortium Action4Disability, supporting the Down's Syndrome Association, Parkinson's Disease Society, Action for Blind People, and Headway - the brain injury association. The money was raised by a combination of business-based initiatives and employee activities.
PC World launched a Collect @ Store service allowing customers to select a product online and reserve it for collection from their local store.
AOL entered a partnership with the Group, offering AOL Broadband in all UK stores from February onwards.
In April the Group signed a long-term co-operation agreement with Eldorado Group, the leading specialist retailer of consumer electronics and domestic appliances in Russia and Ukraine. Under the agreement the Group has the exclusive right - but not the obligation - to take control of Eldorado Group before 2011.
Dixons Group plc changed its name to DSG international plc in September to better reflect its growing international status. At the time one third of sales were from international businesses.
freetalk - a telephone service enabling customers to make free calls via the Internet - was launched by the Group in its UK chains in September.
PC World began publishing its own in-store technology magazine for customers, giving practical information about how to get the most from digital devices.
In October DSG international opened its first store in Poland under the Electro World brand.
The Group published its first corporate responsibility indicators, covering performance in the fields of employment, community relations, health and safety, environment and ethical standards. Shortly after, DSG international was chosen as the Dacorum Community Business of the Year.
Elkjøp was named Internet Trader of the Year in an influential Norwegian industry awards programme.
The Group won a Queen's Award for Enterprise for outstanding international growth, and was the only retailer to do so.
In February, the Group acquired Finnish retailer Markantalo, consolidating its position as the number one electrical retailer in Finland. During the year a 40 per cent stake in Danish retailer F-Group was also acquired.
The Dixons brand was re-launched as a pure-play online retailer. Its high street stores were converted to the Currys brand, creating a 550-strong chain.
The acquisition of a majority stake in leading pan-European e-tailer Fotovista extended the Group's e-commerce operations into 26 countries with the Pixmania brand. During the 2006/07 peak season, e-commerce sales accounted for 10 per cent of total Group sales (up from 3 per cent the previous year.)
In September, the Group launched a new national customer support service, "The TechGuys", to provide expert, fast-track support for increasingly technology-dependent UK homes.
The Link was sold to O2 (UK) Limited, who had previously owned a 40 per cent stake in the chain.
PC World introduced a team bonus to reward customer service and team performance, replacing the historic personal sales commission scheme.
Currys launched a Reserve & Collect service allowing customers to select a product online and reserve it for collection from their local store.
The Group received a Maylands Recovery Award for its best practice communications and business performance following the Buncefield explosion in Hemel Hempstead, adjacent to the Group's Retail Support Centre headquarters.
Chief Executive John Clare retired from DSG international and new Chief Executive John Browett joined the business in December 2007.
Following the transition of Dixons to an online-only retailer, its sales growth was 182% in the first year.
Currys was awarded 'Energy Saving Recommended' status for two own brand set top boxes, an industry first in the UK.
PC World received a Retail Week Awards Product Innovation of the Year award for its Data Recovery service. PC World was also named Highly Commended runner up in the Speciality Retailer of the Year category.
In May, DSGi opened Europe's largest electrical distribution centre in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The centre sits in a 100 acre campus and has the potential to process 25,000 32" flat-screen TVs in a day. It was followed by the opening of a new central distribution warehouse at Piacenza, Italy with over 50,000 square metres of storage space.
In October, Dixons.co.uk launched an online Greenshop, the biggest one-stop-shop of 'green' products available from any electrical retailer in the UK.
PC World introduced a fleet of space age distribution lorries in December. The lorry is called the "RoadMouse", because it is shaped like enormous computer mouse. Thanks to the lorry's tall yet aerodynamic shape, each equivalent journey can be carried out using by 10 percent less fuel and with 10 percent more storage capacity.
In March, Dixons Tax Free unveiled their new concept stores at the exciting Heathrow Terminal 5. Three new Dixons Tax Free stores were opened as well as the first ever PC World airport outlet.
In May, John Browett announced a radical five point plan to focus the business on the customer and the financial performance of the Group. A very thorough analysis of our customers led to a redefinition of priorities and an understanding of exactly what the customer wants from us.
The renewal and transformation of our business will:
1. Focus on the customer through delivering an unbeatable combination of VALUE, CHOICE and SERVICE.
2. Focus the portfolio on winning positions
3. Transform the business to broaden the choices for our customers and improve the in- store buying experience.
4. Win in the internet market by growing our pure play business and become the masters of multi-channel retailing.
5. Reduce our cost base by simplifying processes.
We entered into our second year of our charity partnerships with The Foyer Federation, Eco-Schools, e-Learning Foundation and AbilityNet who are supporting our Switched on Communities campaign to deliver on-the-ground technology and training initiatives.
In October, Liverpool residents were among the first in the UK to experience the new store formats offering from PC World which opened in Aintree. Also this month, a brand new format Currys Megastore was opened at Junction 9 of the M6 near Birmingham. Some £2.3 million in sales was taken on the first four days of opening as the public instantly warmed to this massive new store – the biggest electrical retail outlet in the UK.
In January, DSGi announced that John Allan would be take over as Chairman from Sir John Collins, at the Group's AGM on 2 September.
At the beginning of the year, it was clear the depth and scale of the global recession was going to make it a hard year for almost every industry. However, on 3 March, the Group provided an update on the progress of its Renewal and Transformation plan. The update incorporated an analyst and media trip to the newly opened Currys Megastore in Birmingham – the first of its kind in the UK. As part of the programme to reinvigorate Currys and PC World as the destinations for electrical products, computing and new technology, a unique new 'Megastore' format had been developed. This first Megastore had opened to huge queues on its opening weekend, with one national newspaper running a front-page headline, "Credit Crunch, What Credit Crunch?" At the update, DSGi confirmed that as at 3 March, 13 Currys Superstores,four CurrysDigital stores, 41 PC World Superstores, one new Currys Megastore and one trial combined Currys and PC World store had already been reformatted. The company reported strong initial trading results for these 'new' stores. The stores and their teams were focused on the key pillars of the Renewal and Transformation Plan, offering an unbeatable combination of Value, Choice and Service to customers. All the transformed stores provide improved layout and signage to ease navigation, as well as offering a wider and better range of products and services.
In March, DSGi announced its Contact centre – at the time operated by Capita - would be brought back in house. The decision was taken because it simplified operations in line with the Renewal and Transformation Plan, and because it allowed the business to take greater ownership of contact with the customer.
Following the announcement of a Placing and Rights Issue in March, the Group received very strong support from its shareholders, and the news was well received by suppliers and other stakeholders. As well as reinforcing the balance sheet and instilling confidence in the business, the Rights Issue provided the resources and flexibility to deliver on the Renewal and Transformation plan at a faster pace.
In May, DSGi announced that it had entered into an agreement for the sale of loss-making Electro World Hungary to EW Electro Retail Ltd ("EWH"). The sale saw the transfer of all 9 stores, operations and employees to EWH.
DSGi continued its store transformation plan across all formats. On 4 June, Currys, opened the doors of a brand new Megastore in New Malden. At 37,555 square feet, the New Malden Currys' Megastore was the retailer's and the UK's second biggest electrical outlet – indeed thebiggest in Greater London – and the south east.
On 23 June, Currys announced that it was to be the brand new sponsor of Sky1's favourite family entertainment show, The Simpsons. The sponsorship marked the start of a new advertising strategy for Currys which sees the brand communicate in a new way with its customers by focusing on its service propositions. The new approach takes a humorous look at everyday problems associated with electricals and offer practical solutions.
The very next day, Currys launched it 'We Can Help' service-led brand advertising campaign. It's the biggest ever, multi-channel campaign in support of the Currys brand and includes TV, billboards, colour press ads and TV sponsorship. The new ads which demonstrate Currys' great range of services in a humorous and memorable way, are the next stage in a long term strategy which aims to communicate that Currys makes using and choosing electricals easy and enjoyable. The shift is away from just price-led messaging towards a focus on customer services.
In August The TechGuys launched a range of 62 enhanced services for customers as well as introducing "Club" and "Premier Club" options for the "Whateverhappens" customer support agreements. Under the "Premier Club" agreement customers experience enhanced levels of service such as faster response times and the loan of a product if theirs has to be taken away for repair.
On 8 September Tim How joined the Group's Board as a non-executive Director.
Currys and PC World opened the doors to its first dual-branded Megastore in Fulham on 15th October. The 2-in-1, 45,000 square foot new Fulham Megastore provides the best of both brands under one roof, making shopping for electricals a much simpler and more enjoyable experience for customers. The new store offers the widest ranges and best selection of electricals from both Currys and PC World ensuring a better shopping experience for customers.
By the time of the company's interim results in November, DSGi confirmed 162 stores had been reformatted in the UK and Nordics and in time for Peak, and confirmed plans to reformat stores across Europe.
With the Renewal and Transformation plan continuing apace, DSG international (which was to be renamed Dixons Retail plc later in the year) continued to embark upon its journey to transform its stores and improve the shopping experience for all of its customers.
In January, Dixons announced the appointment of Dr Utho Creusen as a non-executive Director, and John Whybrow's retirement as a non-executive Director from March.
Dixons hosted a Strategy day for analysts, investors and the media in March at its flagship Megastore in West Thurrock where it announced that it would be accelerating the Megastore and '2-in-1' Currys and PC World store roll out plan, with the 2-in1 concept working extremely well and offering customers the best of both brands in one convenient location.
As a key part of its strategy, the Group continued to cut costs and reinvest in transforming its stores and the shopping experience for all of its customers. This was reflected in the 'Customer Plan' which was launched to Dixons colleagues in April. This is the new corporate vision which sets out customer-focused objectives for the next 3 years to ensure that the business continues to introduce more services to more of its customers with an unbeatable combination of value, choice and service.
With World Cup fever sweeping the nation, the 'Cash for Goals' promotion was launched in Currys and 2-in-1 stores. Customers who bought any TV for £599 or above received £10 cash for every goal that England scored. Currys later paid out an additional £10 for Lampard's 'goal that never was' against Germany, and the whole promotion was extremely popular with customers.
In May, Dixons' exclusive partnership with Apple secured the nationwide launch of the iPad before all of its main competitors. Dixons was the only national retailer apart from Apple themselves, who could offer it to customers nationwide, with a full 60 day head start before the competition.
On the 24 June 2010, Dixons announced that it had seen a 61% rise in full year profits, and shared its plans to continue transforming stores with the new 2-in-1 concept. June alone, saw the opening of the new Stevenage Megastore and two 2-in-1 stores in Kings Lynn and Dudley.
Another exclusive retail partnership was announced by Dixons, this time with Phones 4U marking the arrival of Phones 4U branded shop in shops across all Megastores and a number of 2-in-1 stores across the UK. Tim Whiting, Chief Executive of Phones 4U commented, "Currys is the UK's leading specialist electrical retailer and as a leading mobile retailer, I know that our combined reputation, expertise and complimentary approach to customer service, choice and value will make this partnership an unrivalled success."
August also proved to be a very busy year for the Transformation teams – four more 2-in-1 stores, including two Megastores opened in Medway, New Malden, Rugby and Barbican.
A notable change took place in September at the AGM when shareholders overwhelmingly approved plans to re-brand the Group identity from DSG international plc to Dixons Retail plc. This forward-looking move was simple to execute, and reflected the growth trajectory and resurgence of the company as evidenced by the 61% rise in annual profits announced in June.
At the end of September, Dixons announced the appointment of Dharmash Mistry as a non-executive Director.
In October, Dixons unveiled its new advertising campaign in partnership with Lucasfilm to promote its Megastores, with a little help from the Stars Wars characters R2D2 and C3PO. Filmed at the Currys Megastore in West Thurrock, the campaign was launched nationally, and took a prized spot during the commercial break of the X Factor on ITV which was watched by 12 million people. The campaign saw a departure from the more traditional product led advertisements, and was led nationally on billboards, TV, and national newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Guardian. It received an overwhelmingly positive response and helped to cement the Group's position as the country's leading electrical and computing retailer.
At Interim Results, the Group announced that the Renewal and Transformation plan was on track with a total of 250 stores transformed in the UK including 25 Megastores. This represented some 60% of the store portfolio in terms of revenue. 51 stores, including 19 Megastores were confirmed as transformed in the Nordics, and 19 Megastores.
In December, 'Black', a sleek new design concept store from Currys and PC World which brings high end electronics to the High Street, opened in Birmingham. Unique in its offering, Black displays technology in a series of 'collections', which change with the season, ensuring the store has a fresh look and feel every time a customer returns. Praised by the press and the public alike, Black is setting the trend for a new line of specialist stores.
Much of the UK was blanketed in heavy snow at the start of 2010, the coldest winter for 30 years which had reduced footfall in UK stores in the run up to Christmas. However strong trade in the post Christmas sales saw customers buying the latest 3DTV technology, apple products and tablets ahead of the rise in VAT in the UK.
Following the success of the Nintendo DS games console, concept store Black hosted a special midnight launch of the Nintendo 3DS in March. The Nintendo 3DS was a new generation of portable games console, enabling players to enjoy 3D gaming without the glasses, take 3D pictures and interact with other 3DS players online.
At the end of March, Dixons Retail released its Trading Statement. Whilst the Renewal and Transformation plan continued to gain traction with customers, Sales were down reflecting the weaker trading environment as consumer confidence deteriorated, particularly in the UK & Ireland. The Group set out a 4 step action plan to respond to the consumer environment and ensure the delivery of the Renewal and Transformation plan continues; review options for Spain, reduce capital expenditure, focus on cash generation and look into additional cost reduction initiatives.
The Group confirmed it would exit from its PC City business in Spain in April due to a continuing weak consumer environment. All 34 stores would be closed together with the head office and on line operations.
May's Trading Statement confirmed the challenging market conditions in many of the Group's markets. However, the businesses were responding customer's needs enabling them to improve their market positions, particularly in the UK, Nordics, Greece and Italy.
Two joint Currys and PC World superstores opened in May in Swansea, Morfa Retail Park and Kidderminster, Crossley Retail Park. The stores provided the best of both brands under one roof, making shopping for electricals a much simpler and more enjoyable experience for customers. The new stores would offer the widest range and best selection of electricals from both Currys and PC World.
The Group's Nordic distribution centre in Jönköping, Sweden was sold (and leased back) to a syndicate of investors in June for a total cash consideration payable on completion of approximately SEK600 million (£59 million). The proceeds of the sale would be used for general corporate purposes, including offsetting drawings on the Group's revolving credit facility and for repayment of the 6.125% November 2012 Bonds.
The company's new end-to-end services brand Knowhow was launched later that month, offering customers an affordable range of after sales services from getting a product home and setting it up, to helping customers get the most out of their new purchase – as well as a repair service. The services were available to everyone, whether they buy their technology from Currys and PC World or not and services could be accessed via the web, the phone, in-store or in home. Knowhow in-store service bars were rolled out in 250 stores.
The Group's Preliminary Results were announced on 21 June. John Browett, Chief Executive, commented, "We are consistently outperforming our markets and gaining share because our Renewal and Transformation Plan continues to deliver a better and more compelling experience for customers. The store refit programme is progressing well and our relentless focus on customers' needs is reinforced through our services brand Knowhow which gives us a differentiated offer. Self-help has put our business on firm foundations and in a strong position for when we emerge from the current weak consumer environment."
On the same day as the Results announcement, it was confirmed that Nicholas Cadbury, Group Finance Director, was resigning from the Board having spent 18 years at the company. Humphrey Singer would be appointed Group Finance Director to replace Nicholas.
At the end of June, PIXmania signed an agreement with Carrefour to develop its non-food internet offer. PIXmania would deliver a multichannel website in a number of European countries for Carrefour's non-food offer, utilising its market-leading 'E-merchant' platform.
In the following month, a second exciting agreement was signed. Harrods, the UK's leading luxury department store operator, announced that Dixons Retail was to operate the consumer electronics section of Harrods' flagship store in London. Dixons Retail would sell a wide range of leading edge consumer electronic equipment, including computing, audio and vision products together with related accessories and Knowhow services across as 11,000 square foot store.
Four new stores opened in July, two Superstores in Blackpool and Farnborough and two Megastores in North Shields and Rotherham.
In August, riots lasting up to five days in London and around the country saw widespread looting and buildings set alight including many of Currys and PC World stores. The Group supported police efforts to identify and arrest those involved in the unrest across the country and teamed up with Crimestoppers. Thanks to the fantastic response from colleagues, the Currys and PC World stores impacted were back to business quickly.
September's Trading Update for Dixons Retail saw sales down but the performance was in line with expectations compared to strong trading in 2009 as a result of the World Cup and launch of the iPad. While market conditions had remained unsettled, the Group had continued to trade ahead of our markets as customers responded to the improved customer offer.
In the same month, investors, analysts and journalists joined Dixons management a site visit to Stockholm, Sweden, covering the company's Nordic operations. A presentation was given on the market background and business model alongside an overview of the country's business operations. Several store tours followed.
The store Transformation teams continued to work incredibly hard with the opening of five stores in September; two Superstores in Bridgend and Grimsby, two Megastores in Bradford and Old Kent Road in London, one 2-in-1 store at the newly opened shopping centre at Westfield, Straftord City, and in the Currys and PC World Superstore in Tottenham Court Road store Google made its first foray in to the world of physical retail with a Google-Chrome branded 'shop-within-shop'.
In October, Currys and PC World launched a competition to give away 11 sackfuls of must-have technology worth £10,000 on The Gadget Show's wish list, plus every day between then and Christmas a £1,000 Currys & PC World gift card was won. The products were delivered, installed and set up by a Knowhow expert in time for Christmas.
Following the success of the Star Wars advertising campaign in 2010 with R2D2 and C3PO, another TV and online ad campaign was launched on 1 November. It starred the formidable Darth Vader to highlight the outstanding in-store customer service experience that Currys and PC World had been working hard to deliver.
Just a week later, Carphone Warehouse announced it was to close all of its 11 Best Buy stores across the UK and Kesa announced plans to sell off its UK-based Comet stores for £2 to a private equity firm.
Later that month, four more Currys and PC World Superstores opened in Altrincham, Enfield, Leyton and Wembly ahead of the Interim Results announcement.
The Results reported total Group sales up 1% and the strategy to continue to build a service-led business model differentiating its offer for customers and suppliers remained. John Browett commented, "The retail environment continued to be challenging but the pace and impact of improvements in Dixons operating model was driving outperformance versus its competitors."
Christmas 2011 showed a solid performance against a challenging backdrop. Many customers were drawn to multi-channel offers and appreciated the benefits of our Reserve & Collect model. Consumer confidence in many of our markets remained fragile as the economy didn’t show any signs of recovery.
At the end of January, the Group announced that John Browett, Group Chief Executive would be leaving the company to take up the role of Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple. John left the company in April and Sebastian James was appointed as his replacement. Katie Bickerstaffe was appointed to the new role of Chief Executive - UK & Ireland, and also joined the Board. Both Sebastian and Katie were internal appointments, demonstrating the strength in depth of the management team at Dixons Retail.
Currys and PC World announced in February the launch of Knowhow Movies, a transactional on-demand movie and TV streaming service allowing viewers to watch and buy from an impressive library of films and TV shows directly from their TVs, Smartphones, laptops and tablets.
In March, Dixons Retail launched its free Investor Relations app for the iPad and iPhone. It meant that press releases, reports, presentations and shareprice information could be accessed easily and quickly via the app, principally aimed at investment professionals, analysts and corporate media who follow Dixons Retail plc.
In the same month, Dixons Travel opened two bespoke outlets at East Midlands and Gatwick North. Designed by Dixons' in-house team, both stores were new formats designed to suit customers' needs and accommodate specific requirements from each airport.
Just a few days later, Dixons Retail was awarded "Customer Service Initiative of the Year" at the Oracle Retail Week Awards 2012. The introduction of Knowhow (don’t need this any more), the customer service initiative, resulted in a significant increase in customer satisfaction as well as market share growth.
In April, Dixons Retail announced its Knowhow in-house White Goods repair service. The launch in May meant that Dixons Retail would be the only electrical specialist retailer in the UK able to carry out product repairs on white goods for its customers.
To kick off the 2012 summer of sport, Currys & PC World announced in May, their 'Cash for Goals' promotion which would award registered customers who had purchased a laptop or TV at the time, £10 for every goal England scored during the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament.
On 10 May, Dixons Retail announced its Full Year and Q4 trading statement. Sebastian James, Chief Executive, commented, "Our overall Group performance across the year has been slightly better than we anticipated. We saw a strong end to the year particularly in the UK and Nordics, and it is good to see the work that we have been doing to improve the ranging and service bearing fruit as more customers are choosing us over our competitors. However, in Southern Europe our businesses have been impacted by the weaker economic environments and issues in the Eurozone.” Following on from the Full Year results, on 25 May, the Group announced that it had agreed a £300 million Revolving Credit Facility with its syndicate of lending banks.
MOBO award-winning rap artist Tinchy Stryder launched a unique partnership with Goji in June, exclusively with Currys & PC World, to develop a portfolio of audio products. The headphones and speakers were a hit with Tinchy’s followers and our customers across the UK.
The Group announced its 2011/12 Preliminary Results on 21 June which were at the top end of expectations. Sebastian James said, “Against a tough economic backdrop, we have continued to deliver on a clear plan to transform the business and today we are setting out our three strategic priorities to further improve our market position and build a business that is stronger, more profitable and sustainable. Our business is well-positioned for the year ahead."
Later that month, Dixons Travel announced that it would open a new store at Bristol Airport.
On 2 July, the latest ad campaign for Currys & PC World demonstrates unrivalled expertise in helping customers navigate the often confusing world of technology. The ad ended with a reference to Dixons Retail's after-sales service brand Knowhow, explaining that at Currys & PC World, customers could also get expert help in set-up and installation if required.
The following day that month, the Group announced that Rita Clifton, a non-executive director, would be stepping down from the Board after three terms.
Dixons Retail's service brand Knowhow, celebrated its first year of significant growth in July after being rolled out across the UK in May and June 2011. Knowhow is an end-to-end services brand which helps customers get the most out of their products.
As the UK’s summer of sport grew closer, sporting legend Linford Christie OBE created a training video for Currys and PC World colleagues. The video was a quest to keep its store colleagues fit, healthy and super-motivated ahead of one of the biggest sporting events in UK history. The video was circulated to 600 stores during July.
In August, Dixons Retail confirmed that despite the challenging economic environment, its customers recycled a record 43,500 tonnes of products through the free recycling scheme it operates.
The Group also acquired a 22% minority interest in PIXmania in August. Dixons Retail already held 77% interest in PIXmania. This move allowed Dixons Retail to take full day-to-day control of PIXmania.
On 6 September, the Group announced its 1st Quarter Trading Statement. Sebastian James, commented, "While it is still early in our financial year, I am encouraged by the start we have made across the Group. We have had a real boost from a busy summer of events in the UK and our Northern European operations continue to go from strength to strength. We are well placed for the back to school period and look forward to the launch of Windows 8 and the exciting new products that we will have available for customers for the Christmas period.”
At the end of September, it was announced that a new Managing Director for Northern Europe had been appointed. Jaan Ivar Semlitsh would join the Group on 3 January 2013.
Currys & PC World, was the very first UK retailer to sell Microsoft's new and revolutionary Windows 8 operating system to the UK public. On 22 October, it was announced that the Currys & PC World Tottenham Court Road store would have an exclusive midnight opening at 00:01 on Friday 26th October. The store window turned in to oversized Windows 8 touch screen - the first to demo Windows 8 to customers in UK.
On 2 November, Comet, major competitor to Currys & PC World stores, officially entered administration. It was the most high-profile high street failure since the collapse of Woolworths.
On 29 November, Dixons Retail announced its Interim results. Sebastian James said, "We have made good early progress on our three strategic priorities of driving a sustainable business in a multi-channel world, building on our leading market positions and have started to make some progress in sharing best practices across the Group. We have significantly reduced net debt, successfully undertaken a £150 million bond issue and delivered good underlying profit growth in the UK and Northern Europe. We have also improved our performance in Southern Europe and having now assumed full day to day control of PIXmania, we are taking actions to improve its poor performance.
I am particularly encouraged by our performance in the UK & Ireland and in Northern Europe and we were particularly busy during the sporting and cultural events during the summer. While August and September were, as expected, a bit quieter, we remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook. It is increasingly clear in each of our markets that our service-based, multi-channel business model is what customers want. We are outpacing our competitors, and have seen Comet enter administration in the UK and Expert exiting the market in Sweden.
The exciting pipeline of tablets, smart TVs and other technology means customers can look forward to a fantastic shopping trip with us this Christmas.”
Bluewater Store - Promotional Video
2013 Customer Plan
Interview with Sebastian James, 20 June 2013
Customer Plan 2012
Interview with Sebastian James, 21 June 2012