Home Retail Group has forecast another year of double-digit falling sales at its DIY chain, Homebase, as it battles against dire trading conditions in the wider home improvement market.

The gloomy forecast for Homebase came as Home Retail Group, which also owns the catalogue giant Argos, posted a 24% fall in benchmark pre-tax profits, before exceptionals, to £328m for the year to 28 February 2009.

Terry Duddy, the chief executive of Home Retail Group, said it expects Homebase's like-for-like sales this year to fall by a similar level to the 10.2% slump posted over the 52 weeks. He said: 'We expect 2009/10 to be as difficult as 2008/09.'

The Independent