Argos has further strengthened its position on the High Street, showing sales growth of almost four per cent to £4.3 billion for the past financial year.
Sales benefited in particular from a strong performance by video games systems, while Argos also extended market share in other fast growing technology areas such as LCD TVs and sat-nav.
Share was also gained in the toy, white goods, digital cameras and pre-pay mobile phone sectors.
Argos' current spring/summer catalogue has been expanded to a record 18,500 lines. This is around 1,800 more lines than the equivalent edition last year, following a similar 1,500 line step change in the preceding autumn/winter 2007 catalogue.
There have been range extensions in over 50 categories and around 20 new product areas. Significant areas of range expansion include children's bedroom furniture, eco-friendly products, fitness and outdoor pursuits clothing and accessories, plus a number of technology areas.
Store numbers increased to 707 by the end of the year. Of the 31 gross openings, 13 were stores in new catchments, while 18 were openings in an existing catchment.
The proportion of Argos Extra stores also continues to increase. There are now 278 full stocked-in extra stores, representing 39 per cent of the portfolio. Virtually all new stores opened as Extras and an additional ten conversions were completed in the year.
Sales in the 52 weeks to March 1st 2008 increased by 3.8 per cent in total, while like-for-like sales grew by 0.7 per cent. Benchmark operating profit for the period grew 16 per cent to a record £376.2 million as a combined result of sales growth, gross margin expansion led by short-term external factors and exceptional cost management.