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Consumer demand for laptop PCs, digital cameras and camcorders helped electrical retailer Dixons report a prosperous Christmas and a happy New Year, according to figures released this morning.

Retail sales for Christmas period were up almost 20 per cent - a threefold improvement on the same period last year.

The increased sales helped to swell group turnover by 27 per cent to £2.2 billion for the 28 weeks ended 11 November - up four per cent on the previous year.

Underlying operating profit (before exceptional items)beat analyst expectations nudging just above £93 million, compared to £77.8 million for the same period last year.

Dixons claims the 20 per cent increase reflects a strong performance from its new international businesses.

Underlying profit before tax (before exceptional items) touched £90.8 million, down from £92.5 million for previous year.

All figures exclude Freeserve losses.

Commenting on the sale of Britain's biggest ISP to French outfit Wanadoo, Sir Stanley Kalms, Dixons' chairman, said it would enable the group to "concentrate our resources on exploiting the many technology driven opportunities in our retail markets".

Dixons share price rose 8p to 256.25p in earely morning trading. ®

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