Argos (retailer)

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Argos Ltd
Type Subsidiary
Industry Retailer
Founded November 1972[1]
Headquarters Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England
Key people Joe Richards (CEO) Terry Duddy, Darren Marson, John Douglass, Sara Weller (until June 2011), Joe Phillips, Richard Tompkins (founder)
Products Consumer goods
Revenue Sales billion (£4.282) (2009)
Employees circa 51,000
Parent Home Retail Group
Website www.argos.co.uk
www.argos.ie
www.argos-spain.co.uk

Argos is a British catalogue merchant operating in the UK and Ireland. With 737 stores, it is the largest general-goods retailer in the UK.[citation needed] Together with sister company Homebase, it today forms part of the Home Retail Group, alongside Habitat.

Argos owns numerous brands including the now defunct Elizabeth Duke[2] (jewellery and watches), alongside electronic brands Alba and Bush,[3] Chad Valley,[4] and many others.[5] Argos was once a FTSE 100 Index constituent in its own right but is today represented by its parent company Home Retail Group in the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

A large Argos on The Headrow in Leeds

The company was founded by Richard Tompkins who had previously established Green Shield Stamps in the United Kingdom. Whilst on holiday in the Greek city of Argos, he came up with the idea that people could purchase goods from his "Green Shield Gift House" with cash rather than savings stamps. He rebranded the original Green Shield Stamps catalogue shops as Argos beginning in July 1973,[6] the first purpose-built store opening on the A28 Sturry Road, Canterbury in late 1973. Green Shield House was in Station Road, Edgware.

Argos was launched with thousands of staff, taking £1,000,000 during a week in November.[7] Argos was purchased by BAT Industries in 1979 for £32million. In 1980, Argos opened its Elizabeth Duke jewellery counter (named after a director's wife) and by 1982 was the UK's fourth biggest jewellery retailer. The Elizabeth Duke brand has since been phased out and replaced with the "Jewellery and Watches" brand.

Original Argos logo introduced in 1973, until 1999
Former Argos logo introduced in 1999, until 23 January 2010

The company was demerged from BAT Industries and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1990. It was then acquired by GUS plc in 1998.[8] It subsequently became part of Home Retail Group which was demerged from its parent company, GUS plc, with effect from 10 October 2006.[9]

2010 rebranding[edit]

A rebranded Argos branch in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

It was announced in late 2009 that the Argos visual branding would be undergoing changes from 2010. This began on 23 January with the re-launch of the main shopping website, the websites claim to make shopping with Argos more accessible, the careers website and the release of the Spring/Summer 2010 catalogue were also relaunched. All stores opening from the start of 2010 onwards will receive the new identity, with older stores being refurbished in the coming years. The company expect that the rebranding process will take "a number of years",[10] at a cost of £70,000,000.[citation needed] As of July 2013, many stores are yet to be rebranded.

Adverts[edit]

As of November 2011 the adverts feature a family of aliens. Dad is voiced by Bill Nighy, Mum is voiced by Caroline Quentin, their daughter Astrid is voiced by Trixiebelle Harrowell and their son Rufus is voiced by Benjamin Lyons. In June 2013 a new addition to the family was added, a baby alien which was born to Dad rather than Mum. A Twitter campaign was launched to give Twitter users a chance to name the baby and on 29 June 2013 he was named Blue.

Operations[edit]

Argos is the registered owner of a number of brands, which feature on a substantial number of products contained within the catalogue, including: Challenge,[11] Pro Action,[12] Visiq,[13][14] Cookworks,[15] Beanstalk,[16] Pro Fitness,[17] Opticom,[18] Grosvenor,[19] Steamworks,[20] Aquarius,[21] Coolworks,[22] and Mega Games. In early 2009, Argos also struck a deal to take over the brands Alba, Bush,[3] and Chad Valley.[4]

HomeStore&More[edit]

In 2007 Home Retail Group launched a trial of five stores, branded HomeStore&More, situated in Aylesbury, Abingdon, Cambridge, Harlow, and Cheltenham. These stores are operated by Argos[23] following Home Retail Group's acquisition of a stake in an Irish retail chain with the same name.[24] The Harlow store also included a "BedStore&More".[25] The trial was abandoned in February 2012, and the stores closed.[26]

The Irish stores still operate, with HRG's remaining interest sold in May 2013.

ArgosCompare[edit]

Argos operated a financial services price comparison website, in conjunction with BeatThatQuote.com.[27]

In January 2012, ArgosCompare was taken offline, as it did not comply with new guidance issued by the UK Financial Service Authority.

Argos TV[edit]

On 15 June 2011, Argos TV was launched on Sky channel 642 and online.[28] On 25 October 2011, the channel was added to Freesat on channel 819.[29] On 19 September 2012, Argos TV launched on Freeview nationwide on channel 55 for a limited set of hours, as well as full-time in Manchester on channel 59.[30] As part of a reshuffle of the Freeview EPG, the Manchester version moved to channel 54 on 17 October 2012. Argos had leased the Sky EPG slot from JML Direct TV for 12 months to trial the channel and also use JML's facilities in Kentish Town.[31] The channel broadcast 24-hours a day and was produced by ETV Media Group, with four hours of live programming each weekday and eight hours a day at weekends.[32] Viewers were able to purchase items and collect them from local Argos stores through the retailer's "check and reserve" service.

The channel closed on 13 May 2013 in order for Argos to focus resources in other areas. Proceeding this, the channel was removed from Freesat on 9 May. On Sky, it was immediately replaced with JML Living.[33]

Argos Credit Card[edit]

In 2006, Barclays and Argos announced a joint venture to produce an Argos credit card (in the same year Barclays also joined with Thomas Cook).[34][35] Argos cancelled its contract with Barclaycard and a new Argos credit card was announced in 2012, this time in conjunction with Vanquis Bank.[36][37]

Catalogues[edit]

Argos publishes catalogues twice a year (a spring/summer edition in January and an autumn/winter edition in July). Current editions have well over 1500 pages containing photographs of items, brief descriptions, prices and a catalogue number. Store copies are almost identical to home versions except for being ring-bound with individually laminated pages.

The in-store shopping process involves completing a small order form with the catalogue number(s) of the desired item(s). Argos provides unusually short blue pencils in stores for this purpose, to discourage theft. The order form is taken to the checkout and the items paid for, then the customer is given a receipt which indicates where they should wait for their items to be brought to them from the storeroom. On handover of the goods, the receipt is stamped by the store "received" so it cannot be re-used.

Catalogues are complemented by seasonal sales flyers, offering non-catalogue lines and price reductions on existing deals. Other items are sometimes available in stores, such as ex-catalogue goods at reduced prices (especially after the launch of a new catalogue).

In early 2006, Argos carried out a trial of a new catalogue branded Argos Home in over 100 stores in the UK This proved successful and on 5 August 2006, it launched the second Argos Home catalogue, this time in all 200 Argos Extra stores. The catalogue only contains home furniture and styling tips for the current season. Most items displayed in the Argos Home catalogue are also available in the main catalogue too. There are occasionally new lines in the Home catalogue which may have not been available at the time the main catalogue went to print.

An out of town Argos in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, August 2009

As part of the Autumn/Winter 2010 rebrand, all stores will be branded simply as "Argos" when they are refitted. Former "Extra" marked lines will be available in all stores. However, stock levels will entirely depend on the area's demand for that particular line. If it does not sell, then the item will have to be ordered in to that store. (Argos stores in city centres will theoretically have a slightly different stocked-in range than those on retail parks.)[citation needed] In recent years, the stock-checkers in some stores have been modernised into a touch-screen digital display, offering more visibility on the catalogued items. Other stores continue to contain the original stock-checkers.

In late 2012, Argos announced that, as of 2013, that they would be closing a number of their catalogue stores, thus fewer catalogues will be made available nationwide, after a significant profit fall, and also to boost the popularity of their online store. Claims, however, from the media that the stores themselves would change from their[38] states are false.

Controversies[edit]

Sunday trading[edit]

In 2001, Argos sparked a political controversy in Scotland, when it sacked several workers for refusing to work on a Sunday.[39] This action would have been illegal in the rest of the UK, as the Sunday Trading Act 1994 gave shopworkers in England and Wales the right to refuse Sunday work (unless they were employed to work solely on a Sunday). The 1994 Act did not apply to Scotland as there was no legislation regarding Sunday trading applicable to Scotland. Although Argos later retracted its decision to sack the workers and to enforce a Sunday working clause in Scottish employee contracts,[40] its actions led to the passing of the Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003 which extended the legal right of employees to refuse Sunday working to include shopworkers in Scotland.

If an employee was to agree to work on a Sunday, they would be paid time and a half. This was then changed mid-2010 and the Argos stores would only be open for the Sunday trading hour period. This was then changed in the mid-2010 where employees pay went from time and a half to the normal hourly rate.[citation needed]

Price fixing[edit]

In 2002, Argos, along with rival retailer Littlewoods Index, was accused by the Office of Fair Trading of price fixing goods from toy manufacturer Hasbro.[41] The decision reached in 2003 resulted in Argos being fined £17.28 () million,[42] however, an appeal in 2005 led to that being reduced to £15 () million.[43] Argos boss Terry Duddy gave evidence along with David Snow, Jonathan Ward, Alan Cowley, and Ian Thompson.[44] As of 2005, Argos denies price fixing and is appealing the decision.

Furniture and skin burns[edit]

In 2008, Chinese manufactured sofas from Argos and other retailers Land of Leather and Walmsleys were featured in a BBC Watchdog report on skin irritation.[45] The Chinese manufacturer, LinkWise, denies that the furniture is to blame for the incidents. Watchdog praised Argos for its speedy voluntary recall of the affected products, compared to the two other retailers involved. However, during a lengthy case ending in 2010, customers won compensation against the company.

Pricing in Ireland[edit]

The higher price that Argos charges for goods in Republic of Ireland, compared to the UK, has attracted criticism.[46]

Slogans[edit]

The current slogan for Argos is "Find it, Get it, Argos It", as of July 2013. Previous slogans have included "It's So Easy", "Brighter Shopping", "Don't shop for it, Argos it!", and more recently "Helping you Live for Less".

Business Development[edit]

Partnership with eBay - Click and Collect Scheme[edit]

It has been announced in September 2013, that Argos will be introducing a click and collect scheme, which will allow customers to collect their eBay purchases from Argos Stores across the UK. The trial of the click and collect service will involve 150 Argos stores and more than 50 eBay sellers taking part in the scheme.[47]

Charity partnerships[edit]

The current main charity partner for Argos is the Alzheimer's Society, which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and its sister charities Alzheimer Scotland and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland. All three charities will be Argos "Charity of the Year" in their respective territories in an arrangement scheduled to run until 2015.[48]

Previous major charity partnerships include the Teenage Cancer Trust, which began in July 2010 and ran until July 2012, the British Heart Foundation (July 2008 to July 2010) and Help The Hospices (July 2006 to July 2008).

In another recent charity initiative, Argos teamed up with Barnardo's in a six-week campaign in the run up to Christmas 2012 that raised £700,000 (over million) for the children's charity.[49] Under the scheme customers brought in unwanted toys to Argos or Barnado's stores in return for £5 Argos vouchers.[50] Argos passed on the old toys it collected to Barnado's for sale in the charity's own chain of shops.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Argos Limited". OpenCompany.co.uk. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Duke" trademark registration, UK Patent Office website. Information retrieved 4 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Trademark 2498304". Ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Trademark 1016513". Ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Argos trademarks, UK Patent Office website. Information retrieved 4 March 2007.
  6. ^ "Argos – www.argos.co.uk". www.argos.co.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Milestones and Memories, Argos. Article retrieved 4 March 2007.
  8. ^ "Argos attacks GUS offer". BBC News. 26 February 1998. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "GUS reveals demerger plans". Findarticles.com. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Argos set to rebrand in 2010". Marketing Magazine. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "Trademark 789922". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Trademark 2130732". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "Trademark 2189886". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "Trademark 2189887". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  15. ^ "Trademark 2189939". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  16. ^ "Trademark 2189941". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "Trademark 2266276". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  18. ^ "Trademark 2346292". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "Trademark 2369535". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  20. ^ "Trademark 2446698". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "Trademark 2421779". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Trademark 2471774". ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  23. ^ "HomeStore&More". Homestoreandmore.co.uk. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  24. ^ "Home Retail Group – Our history". Homeretailgroup.com. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  25. ^ "BedStore&More". Bedstoreandmore.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  26. ^ "HRG to close HomeStore & More". diyweek.net. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  27. ^ We work in partnership with Beatthatquote.com...
  28. ^ "Argos TV channel launching on Sky". Digital Spy. 15 June 2011. 
  29. ^ "Argos TV launches on Freesat in time for Christmas". Digital Spy. 25 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Argos TV launching on Freeview". Digital Spy. 14 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "Argos to launch new TV shopping channel". Retail Gazette. 11 March 2011. 
  32. ^ "Argos gears up for TV channel launch". Marketing. 15 June 2011. 
  33. ^ "Argos TV comes to an end". a516digital. 12 May 2013. 
  34. ^ <http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Barclays+Bank+and+Argos+in+credit+card+tie-up.-a0149979901>
  35. ^ <http://www.barclaycard.com/what-we-do/timeline.html>
  36. ^ <http://www.thesuncashback.co.uk/Argos_Credit_Card>
  37. ^ <http://www.argos.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CreditAndInsuranceView?langId=110&storeId=10151&page=Argos%20Credit%20Card>
  38. ^ Daily Mail website. Information retrieved 19 July 2013.
  39. ^ "Sunday roasting for retailer", news.bbc.co.uk. Article dated 1 July 2002. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  40. ^ "Argos Sunday working climbdown", news.bbc.co.uk. Article dated 1 July 2002. Retrieved 6 November 2006.
  41. ^ "Inquiry into toy 'price fixing'", bbc.co.uk. Article dated 1 May 2002. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  42. ^ oft.gov.uk. Retrieved 2007-03-04. Archived 11 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ oft.gov.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2007.[dead link]
  44. ^ Agreements between Hasbro U.K. Ltd, Argos Ltd and Littlewoods Ltd fixing the price of Hasbro toys and games, oft.gov.uk. Article dated 19 February 2002. Retrieved 4 March 2007.
  45. ^ "BBC Watchdog – Itchy Sofas", bbc.co.uk. Article dated 18 February 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  46. ^ "Pricewatch " Price is still not right". Irishtimes.com. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  47. ^ "Commercial property News - eBay Offering a Click and Collect Service using Argos - September 25, 2013". 
  48. ^ Company website: Argos in the community
  49. ^ Third Sector "Barnardo's Toy Exchange scheme with Argos raises £700,000 in six weeks"
  50. ^ Argos Toy Exchange page, retrieved 29 March 2013

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