Now a division of supermarket group Sainsbury's, Argos is the UK's biggest general merchandise retailer, and the market leader in multiple sectors including toys, housewares, small domestic appliances and jewellery. It has been unique in Britain as a retailer with an extensive network of high street stores, but operating a unusual sales model which has evolved from the company's roots in trading stamps. Each outlet offers a huge range of general merchandise, but almost none of it is displayed on shelves. Instead, customers browse from a digital catalogue instore or from home - the long-established printed catalogue is finally to be dropped at the end of 2020 - and order over the counter or online. Most stores carry several thousand items in stock behind the counter for immediate purchase, with thousands more available for next day delivery or collection. However, the chain was acquired by Sainsbury's in the break-up of Home Retail Group in 2016, along with the iconic furniture and homewares retailer Habitat in the UK. Following integration into Sainsbury's, Argos initially retained around 594 free-standing stores. However, increasingly, free-standing Argos outlets are being eliminated in favour of ordering and collection counters in Sainsbury's stores. In 2020, following Covid restrictions which shuttered most Argos stores nationally, plans were announced to close all but 100 freestanding outlets by 2024, but also open more counters in more Sainsbury's supermarkets. As of March 2021, there were 401 remaining standalone Argos stores and 336 branches within Sainsbury's supermarkets. Only three standalone Habitat furniture and homewares stores remain. John Rogers is CEO of the Sainsbury's Argos division. The group no longer breaks out sales for this business, or indeed for its combined non-groceries operations. However, for the year to 2017, Argos reported revenues of £4.5bn. Originally established in the UK in 1973, Argos passed through several hands over the following decades before becoming part of diversified group GUS in 1998. It was spun out, along with home improvement retailer Homebase, in 2006 as Home Retail Group. Argos began testing an initial partnership with Sainsbury's in 2015 to install dedicated Argos collection points within selected larger Sainsbury's stores. That prepared the ground for the latter's bid to acquire the business outright the following year.
Capsule checked 1st December 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Nov 2020: "AbraCaDaisy & The Incredible Lucy". Catalogue retailer Argos opens the UK's Christmas advertising floodgates with The & Partnership's sequel of sorts to last year's original 'Book of Dreams' campaign. It's a very likeable campaign but, in our eyes, doesn't equal the spectacle of its predecessor. Is it perhaps a bit too cluttered and dimly lit? And Gary Barlow's cheesy 'Incredible' doesn't get those feet tapping (or air drummers drumming) like retro classic 'Don't You Forget About Me'. Nevertheless, it summons a welcome smile to the faces of Britons who are now staring down the barrel of the new national lockdown. Even with those separate theatre boxes, this looks like the sort of family Christmas we might be denied under new "Tier 4" restrictions...
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Mar 2020: "So Stylish Suki Can Wear It". In these troubling times, we need something to keep a smile on our lips beneath the facemasks. (And, also, let's make the most of any new ads that come along, since the flow is likely to start drying up within a week or two as the industry goes into shutdown). The & Partnership doubles down on their already hilarious furniture-as-fashion concept for general retailer Argos, recruiting supermodel Suki Waterhouse to poke a little fun at herself. The results are absolutely brilliant and Suki's poker-faced performance is a delight. "I'm holding a duck" could easily become 2020's answer to Old Spice's classic "I'm on a horse".
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Nov 2019: "The Book of Dreams". And so it begins... With October finally out of the way, the Christmas ad deluge commences. The & Partnership gets us off to a cracking start with a fabulously heart-warming, nostalgia-tinged film for Argos. For our international readers who may not be aware of Argos, it's the UK's biggest catalogue retailer, famous for its printed book, which has been the cornerstone of many households' Christmas (and other) shopping for several decades. Order from the book, collect from the High Street store. Almost unbelievably, the agency has even digitised online every Christmas catalogue since 1974, so nostalgic shoppers can take a trip down memory lane to see what they bought in every one of the past 45 years. The full-length ad - stretching to 2 mins 45 - is a delight, but the cut-down versions are great too. Could this be the beginning of a vintage year for Christmas ads? Well, probably not, but at least we're off to a good start.
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jul 2019: Sainsbury's has combined marketing reponsibilities for its two main brands Sainsbury's Supermarkets and Argos. Mark Given, previously top marketer for the supermarket business, was named as group chief marketing officer. Argos marketing director Gary Kibble is leaving the group.
Adbrands Social Media 4th Apr 2019: "So Stylish You Can Wear It". The & Partnership strike gold with a hilarious campaign for home and garden accessories from Argos, which manages both to parody and to celebrate the absurdities of high fashion. In fact, some of these looks are really quite awesome. We're especially fond of those plates-dresses, though they must weigh a ton. A really funny, memorable campaign to get the summer started.
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