Dixons Retail plc, was one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Europe. At the time of its merger with Carphone Warehouse in 2014, Dixons Retail had 530 outlets in the UK and Ireland, and 322 in northern Europe.
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.
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.
Dixons Carphone is now Europe’s leading specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company
Dixons was originally 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. The name Dixons, selected randomly from the telephone directory, was sufficiently short to fit above the small shop front.
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. Stanley Kalms, the son of the founder, joined the business in 1948 and started advertising the company’s products in the press.
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.
Dixons was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1962 changing its name at that time to Dixons Photographic Limited. It bought out competitors, Ascotts, in 1962 and Bennetts, in 1964. In 1967 Dixons bought an 85,000 sq ft (7,900 m2) colour processing laboratory in Stevnage.
Charles Kalms was succeeded by his son Stanley in 1971. In 1972 Dixons bought another competitor, Wallace Heaton, and in 1974 it opened its Stevenage distribution centre
In 1993 Dixons bought Vision Technology Group (VTG), operating under the PC World brand at Croydon, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Brentford and Staples Corner. Later that year the company sold VTG’s mail order division, Dixons US Holdings Inc and Supasnaps.
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.
In 1996 Dixons bought DN Computer Services, a computer reseller business. It also acquired the retail assets of Harry Moore Ltd, an Irish electrical retailer.
Cellnet bought a 40% stake in The Link in 1997. Also that year the Dixons website was launched.
In 1998, Freeserve, a free internet service, was launched; it was later sold to France Telecom and renamed Wanadoo.
Dixons bought Elkjop ASA, a Norwegian retailer, in 1999.
In 2002 Dixons bought UniEuro, an Italian-based electrical retailer, and Genesis Communications, a mobile phone service provider, DSG opened its first Electro World store in Hungary.
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). (This option was not pursued, DSGi withdrawing their interest in 2007.)
In 2006 DSGi was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The company said that the Dixons brand would continue purely online and that all high-street stores would be rebranded Currys.digital. DSGi also bought 75% of Fotovista, a French photographic business.
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.
Buffeted by the GFC 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.
In May 2010 the company secured almost exclusive UK rights to sell the Apple iPad.
In June 2010 DSGi changed its name to Dixons Retail plc.
Merger with Carphone Warehouse
In May 2014 Dixons confirmed a proposed merger with Carphone Warehouse which would lead to a market cap of circa £3.7bn. The merger completed on 7 August 2014.