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Argos boss steps down

Home Retail, the catalogue retailer's holding company, also announces falling profits.

Home Retail has announced a 13% drop in profits to £254m. In separate news, the head of its Argos business is to step down for personal reasons.

Sara Weller, Argos' managing director, is to leave the company in June citing health reasons. The post will be covered by chief executive of Home Retail, Terry Duddy, until her replacement is found.

Home Retail's two general-goods outlet companies have fared very differently over the last year. Argos profits fell by 18% from £266m to £219m, though this was in line with analyst predictions. Meanwhile Homebase, the smaller DIY chain, saw profits rise by 16% to £47.6m. In turn - despite the overall year-end losses - Home Retail's share price today went up by almost 10p to 219.2p.

Chairman Oliver Stocken said: "Economic uncertainty and a low level of consumer confidence continue to adversely impact customer spending patterns. Despite these challenges the Group continues to build on its strategic advantages to ensure that it will be well positioned for the economic recovery over the longer term."

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.