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Carphone Warehouse clings to buoyant fondleslab, avoids submerging

Margins sure to be better in China than Europe, right?

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Lower handset subsidies and a lack of choice in the low end caused high-street business to drop more than 5 per cent in Europe according to Carphone Warehouse, though the retailer still managed to maintain profits within its own predictions.

The drop in retail was offset by a decent performance in Virgin Mobile France, which has apparently recovered from the hit it took when Free Mobile launched. Also helping the bottom line are sales of tablets and accessories, which are up 15 per cent, not to mention the cash injection from the sale of Best Buy mobile which saw £813m returned to shareholders.

That sale pushed overall profit up to £762.2m, compared to £67m the previous year, but actual earnings remained effectively static at £135m – which is within, but at the bottom of, the range the company had predicted.

The mobile phone retailer said it "expect[s] the consumer environment in Europe to remain challenging in the year ahead along with the continued effect of regulation and competition in the mobile market".

Operating costs are down, around £30m has been sliced off expenditure over the last 12 months, and the company still plans to open its first Chinese branch, in cooperation with Best Buy, later this month - presumably hoping it will fare better than the coalition's European experiment. ®

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