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House of Fraser beats Christmas misery

House of Fraser recorded like-for-like sales ahead 2.4% over the crucial Christmas trading period.

The department store chain which was acquired by a Baugur-led consortium in 2006, said like-for-like sales during the five weeks to January 3 were up 2.4% on the same period last year.

Gross profit over the period was also ahead of the previous year and the retailer said that stock levels continued to improve under new management with inventories reduced by 20% compared with the same time in 2006.

House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said that the buoyant trading over the period was a superb end to House of Fraser’s first full year under the new management team. He said “We have met all our financial objectives. We have reduced the number of Sale days with the result that full margins have improved.”

He added that despite the gloomy retail outlook for this year, he remained optimistic: “We believe it will be another exciting year as we roll out our investment programme, open new stores, build our internet presence and further enhance our brand offering.”

McCarthy also issued a message to suppliers, who were hit with radical changes to terms by House of Fraser in September to help the department store finance its store refurbs and a branding overhaul. He said: “We are confident that our brand and concession partners as well as our customers continue to recognise the benefits of the changes we are making as we position House of Fraser as a fashion-led department store.”

“The combination of store investment and the new brand introductions, both implemented and in the pipeline, will only make House of Fraser a more tempting place to shop,” McCarthy added.

House of Fraser said its debt position is £110 million better than the retailer’s original financing plan and added that the chain has cash deposits of £113m, £35m more than last year.

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