Dixons Retail

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Dixons Retail plc
Private company
Industry Retail
Fate Merged with Carphone Warehouse
Successor Dixons Carphone
Founded October 1937
Defunct 6 August 2014 (2014-08-06)
Headquarters Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK
Key people
Lord Kalms
(Life President)
John Allan
Sebastian James
(chief executive)
Products Brown goods
White goods
Information Technology
Consumer Electronics
Revenue £8.213 billion (2013)[1]
£136.0 million (2013)[1]
£168.1 million (2013)[1]
Number of employees
33,000 (2014)[2]
Slogan Electronics & More
Website www.dixonsretail.com

Dixons Retail plc, was one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Europe. In the UK, the company operates Currys, Currys Digital, PC World, (with stores increasingly dual-branded 'Currys PC World'), Dixons Travel and its service brand Knowhow. Dixons Retail's Nordic and central European business is operated under the Elkjøp umbrella, and it also operates Kotsovolos in Greece. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index until its merger with Carphone Warehouse on 7 August 2014 to create Dixons Carphone.[3]

At the time of its merger in 2014, Dixons Retail had 530 outlets in the UK and Ireland, and 322 in northern Europe.

The company, formerly known as Dixons Group plc and later DSG International plc, specialised in selling mass-market technology consumer electronics products, audio-video equipment, PCs, small and large domestic appliances, photographic equipment, communication products and related financial and after sales services (e.g. extended service agreements, set-up and installation and repairs) to the techno-illiterate. It also sold other products and services, electrical products, spares, mobile services and extended warranties.


A Dixons store in Sheffield in 2000

Early years[edit]

Dixons was founded as a photographic studio by Charles Kalms and Michael Mindel in the High Street in Southend under the name of Dixons Studios Limited, a company registered in October 1937 with share capital of £100.[4] The name Dixons, selected randomly from the telephone directory, was sufficiently short to fit above the small shop front.[4] During the early 1940s Dixons set up seven studios around London but by the end of the second world war the business was reduced to a single studio in Edgware.[4] Stanley Kalms, the son of the founder, joined the business in 1948 and started advertising the company's products in the press.[4]

In 1950 the company started selling cameras and in 1957 opened a new head office and buying centre in Edgware to accommodate the staff dealing with 60,000 mail order customers and to provide administrative back-up for its six stores.[5]

Dixons was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1962 changing its name at that time to Dixons Photographic Limited.[6] It bought out competitors, Ascotts, in 1962 and Bennetts, in 1964.[6] In 1967 Dixons bought an 85,000 sq ft (7,900 m2) colour processing laboratory in Stevenage.[6]

Charles Kalms was succeeded by his son Stanley in 1971.[7] In 1972 Dixons bought another competitor, Wallace Heaton, and in 1974 it opened its Stevenage distribution centre.[7]


In 1993 Dixons bought Vision Technology Group (VTG), operating under the PC World brand at Croydon, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Brentford and Staples Corner.[8] Later that year the company sold VTG's mail order division, Dixons US Holdings Inc and Supasnaps.[8]

It opened its first Tax Free store at Heathrow Terminal 3 in 1994 and later that year launched phone store The Link, the company's first venture into communications. The company's head office was relocated to Hemel Hempstead.[8]

In 1996 Dixons bought DN Computer Services, a computer reseller business.[8] It also acquired the retail assets of Harry Moore Ltd, an Irish electrical retailer.[8]

Cellnet bought a 40% stake in The Link in 1997. Also that year the Dixons website was launched.[8]

In 1998 Freeserve, a free internet service, was launched; it was later sold to France Telecom and renamed Wanadoo.[8]

Dixons bought Elkjøp ASA, a Norwegian retailer, in 1999.[9]


In 2002 Dixons bought UniEuro, an Italian-based electrical retailer,[10] and Genesis Communications, a mobile phone service provider,[11] DSG opened its first Electro World store in Hungary.[12]

In 2005 Dixons Group plc changed its name to DSG International plc.

Further potential expansion came in 2005 when DSGi bought an interest in Eldorado Group, the largest electrical retailer in Russia and Ukraine, with an option to buy the rest by 2011 at a fixed price of US$1.9 billion (£1 billion GBP).[13] (This option was not pursued, DSGi withdrawing their interest in 2007.)[14]

In 2006 DSGi was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise.[11] The company announced that the Dixons brand would continue purely online and that all high-street stores would be rebranded Currys.digital.[11] DSGi also bought 75% of Fotovista, a French photographic business.[15]

In January 2008 DSGi announced that it would stop selling analogue TVs. Only integrated digital televisions would be sold, in an effort to get consumers ready for the digital switchover.[16]

In May 2008, DSGi announced that it would close 77 of its 177 UK Currys.digital shops as their building leases expired over the following five years.[17]


In May 2010 the company secured almost exclusive UK rights to sell the Apple iPad.[18]

In June 2010 DSGi changed its name to Dixons Retail plc.[19]

Merger with Carphone Warehouse[edit]

In May 2014 Dixons confirmed a proposed merger with Carphone Warehouse which would lead to a market cap of circa £3.7bn.[20] The merger completed on 7 August 2014.


As of 2014, Dixons has 530 outlets in the UK and Ireland, and 322 in northern Europe.[21] The company is structured according to the international locations of its businesses and brands, as detailed below:

UK and Ireland[edit]

Dual-branded "Currys PC World" store in Leeds

Brands comprise (40% of sales, largest market share in UK and Ireland):[22]

  • Currys / PC World / Knowhow - specialises in home electronics and household appliances
  • Knowhow - a provider after-sales product support and cover
  • Dixons travel - a retailer operating in the UK's main airports and Dublin International Airport in the Republic of Ireland.
  • DSGi Business - a specialist provider of IT solutions to business and the public sector

Northern Europe[edit]

Electro World store in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic

Brands comprise (32% of sales, largest market share in Nordic countries and Czech Republic):[22]

Southern Europe[edit]

Brands comprise (13% of sales, largest market share in Greece):[22]

  • Κωτσόβολος ("Kotsovolos") - sells home electronics in Greece

Product brands[edit]

Prinztronic-branded games console.

Since the Prinz brand was introduced in the 1950s,[24] Dixons Retail has used a number of own brand names for products sold in its stores.


Dixons' brand line-up underwent a major reorganisation during 2010.[25] As of August 2013, the current brands in use include the following:-

  • Essentials[26] - Includes Currys Essentials and PC World Essentials[25]
  • Logik[25][26] - Introduced in 2001. and Intended for everyday use with an "emphasis on reliability and efficiency" and "a better value alternative to the major name brands without compromising on performance."
  • Advent[25][26] - Established brand used for computers, peripherals and other accessories
  • Sandstrøm[25] - Intended to compete with higher-end consumer electronics brands, Sandstrøm is claimed to be "Inspired by Scandinavian design [and] designed to combine aesthetics with performance"[26]
  • Goji[25][26] - Producer of equipment including computers, smartphones and audio products as well as bags and storage. Distributed by Dixons Group. The audio division was co-founded by grime artist Tinchy Stryder, and uses the Goji Tinchy Stryder brand.


Saisho brand logo
  • Prinz/Prinzsound/Prinztronic - The Prinz brand was first used on Japanese-manufactured goods during Dixons' 1950s expansion.[24] Later, the Prinztronic brand appeared on electronic items such as pocket calculators[27] and early Pong-clone TV game consoles.[28]
  • Miranda - Originally the name of a Japanese camera manufacturer which ceased operations in the late 1970s,[29] Dixons acquired the brand in the early 1980s and used it on a range of photographic equipment,[30] including badge-engineered versions of Cosina cameras.[31] As of May 2011, Dixons still owned rights to the name, but no longer used it and planned to sell it off.[30]
  • Saisho - Introduced in 1982.[32] As of May 2011 the Saisho brand had been dormant for a number of years, and Dixons announced its intention to sell it off.[30]
1980s Matsui logo with the pseudo-Japanese "rising sun" symbol
  • Matsui - Introduced in the 1980s by Currys as a brand for its consumer electronics goods assembled in the United Kingdom from components imported from such countries as Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Yugoslavia and Britain. Products in the Matsui line contained neither Japanese parts nor labour, but were branded with a Japanese-sounding name, a rising sun symbol and a motto, Japanese Technology Made Perfect. This gimmick led many consumers to mistakenly believe that they were buying Japanese products. In December 1988 a British government consumer protection agency charged Currys with misleading advertising. Because of its association with Iwane Matsui, a Japanese general responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in the Nanking Massacre in 1937, the Matsui name brought protests from some British veterans of World War II. Currys was ordered by the Oxford court to drop the Japanese Technology Made Perfect motto and fined USD 7,400, but was allowed to keep the Matsui name.[33]

Former businesses[edit]

Former businesses include:

  • Mastercare Commercial Services, a business operating from a call centre offering IT services to IT businesses, which has since been rebranded as Knowhow.[34]
  • Freeserve, an internet service provider, which was purchased by France Télécom and rebranded as Wanadoo in 2000, (who were eventually re-branded/merged into Orange).[35]
  • The Link, a UK mobile phone retailer, sold to O2 in June 2006.[36]
  • Freetalk, a (VOIP) business, whose customers were transferred to Vonage, a US-based VOIP company, in August 2006.[37]
  • Pixmania, a French-based online retailer, which was acquired by Dixons Retail in 2006 and sold in 2013.[38]
  • @Jakarta, a computer games store, which was sold to Gameplay.com in 2000.[39]

Financial results[edit]

The following table shows the company's financial results:

DSG International plc financial results
Fiscal Year 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Fiscal Year End Date 30/04/13 28/04/12 01/05/11 01/05/10 02/05/09 03/05/08 28/04/07 29/04/06 30/04/05 01/05/04 03/05/03 27/04/02 28/04/01 29/04/00 01/05/99 02/05/98
Turnover £ 000,000 8,213.9 8,186.7 8,154.4 8,531.6 8,227.0 8,545.9 7,929.7 7,072.0 6,982 6,491 5,750.5 4,888.2 4,688.2 3,889.9 3,156.3 2,791.9
Profit before tax £000,000 (115.3) 70.8 (224.1) 112.7 (140.4) (192.8) 295.1 302.9 336.8 366.2 278.6 282.3 647.1 * 472.1 * 231.3 213.3
Profit for the period £000,000 (168.1) (194.4) (245.3) 57.3 (219.3) (259.7) 2.4 211.7 243.1 289.4 207.8 211.2 602.6 413.7 186.2 166.4
Basic eps (p) (4.4) (4.3) (6.6) 1.7 (10.2) (14.5) 10.9 11.7 12.6 14.4 10.7 11.0 31.5 22.5 41.1+ 36.9+

*The above trend profits for 2000 and 2001 were primarily attributable
to profits on disposal of Freeserve shares. +Pre stock split.


In the UK, distribution is by two different routes. The Customer Service Centre's (CSC) (previously known as Home Delivery Centres ) supply larger items throughout the country. These centres are at Avonmouth, Cardiff, Leeds, Thetford, Spennymoor, Erith, Plympton, Basingstoke and Perivale; they are supplied by one main stock centre Central Hub Distribution Centre (CHDC) in Newark on Trent. The second route, Customer Distribution Centres, supplies smaller items direct to customers by courier. Distribution to stores also happens via the same two routes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Preliminary Results 2013
  2. ^ Dixons Retail: About us
  3. ^ "UK's Dixons Retail plans merger with Carphone to create high street giant". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d History 1930-1949
  5. ^ History 1950-1959
  6. ^ a b c History 1960-1969
  7. ^ a b History 1970-1979
  8. ^ a b c d e f g History 1990-1999
  9. ^ Dixons moves into Europe with £440m Norwegian buy[dead link]
  10. ^ Dixons in £230m UniEuro takeover
  11. ^ a b c History 2000-2009
  12. ^ Megastore sets off Electro riot Archived 6 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Dixons looks to Russian Eldorado for growth
  14. ^ Preliminary Results 2007
  15. ^ DSG snaps up Euro photo etailer
  16. ^ Currys stops selling analogue TVs BBC News 22 January 2008
  17. ^ "Currys.digital to close 77 stores" BBC News 15 May 2008
  18. ^ PC World gets almost-exclusive iPad deal Channel Register, 25 May 2010
  19. ^ DSG, formerly known as Dixons, is now renamed ... Dixons The Telegraph, 25 June 2010
  20. ^ "New Carphone Dixons electronics retail giant for the digital age to be created by £3.7bn merger". This is Money. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  21. ^ Retailing The Times
  22. ^ a b c "Structure". Dixons Retail plc. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Mix Electronics S.A. wykupuje 100 proc. udziałów w Electro World Polska sp. z.o.o." [Mix Electronics SA acquires 100 percent. shares in Electro World Poland Sp zoo]. 3 September 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Dixons Retail : History: 1950 - 59". Dixons Retail website. Dixons Retail. Retrieved 4 August 2013. [Stanley Kalms] 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'. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f "Dixons aims high, medium and low with own-brand blizzard". The Register. 4 August 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c d e "PC World and Currys feature exclusive new brands this Christmas". Dixons Retail website. Dixons Retail. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "Prinztronic Calculators". Vintage Calculators. Retrieved 4 August 2013. "Prinz" and "Prinztronic" were own-brand trade names of the British "Dixons" photographic and electronic goods stores 
  28. ^ "Prinztronic". Yesterplay. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  29. ^ "Miranda dx-3". MirandaCamera.com. Retrieved 4 August 2013. [dx3] production stopped when Miranda stopped making cameras in December 1976. 
  30. ^ a b c "Dixons to flog off old 'brands' Miranda and Saisho". The Register. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  31. ^ ""Miranda" sold in the UK by the Dixons Photo Chain". MirandaCamera.com. Retrieved 4 August 2013. The SLR cameras were badge engineered "Cosina" reflexes in at least three configurations 
  32. ^ "Dixons Retail : History: 1980 - 89". Dixons Retail website. Dixons Retail. Retrieved 4 August 2013. In 1982 Dixons introduced Saisho own-brand products presenting an upmarket high technology image spanning audio, TV and video products. 
  33. ^ Lohr, Steve (3 April 1988). "'Made in Japan' or Not? That Is the Question". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  34. ^ Fighting back after my Mastercare nightmare The Guardian, 24 May 2003
  35. ^ French rival seals Freeserve deal BBC, 6 December 2000
  36. ^ O2 to buy The Link chain for £30m BBC, 21 June 2006
  37. ^ Vonage Buys Customer Base As Freetalk Stops Talking TelecomWeb News Digest, 31 August 2006
  38. ^ "Dixons Retail to sell loss-making online store Pixmania". BBC. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  39. ^ Dixons sells @Jakarta to Gameplay.com The Telegraph, 13 August 2000

External links[edit]