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House of Fraser hails success of house brands

House brands continued to be key for House of Fraser’s fashion business as the department store group reported a 1.7% rise in like-for-like sales for the first half.

The retailer’s house brands such as Linea, Biba and Howick performed well for the chain, with menswear “particularly strong”.

House of Fraser said the initial customer response to its new womenswear brand, The Department, has been “good” and the Mary Portas range is doing “great”. Mary Portas stores were rolled out to Manchester, Glasgow, Guildford and Westfield during the first half of the year and further Mary Portas rollouts are planned for the second half of the year.

House of Fraser said it had recorded a “strong start” to the second half as like-for-like sales rose 0.6% in the second quarter. The department store group reported like-for-likes, excluding VAT, up 1.7% in the first half. Gross profit was flat at £94.8m in the 13 weeks to July 28.

Chief executive John King said: “We are pleased to report a solid set of results despite difficult market conditions. Our strategy to invest in our stores and online proposition as well as further develop our product offering will continue to drive growth.”

He added that although it is difficult to predict when economic conditions will improve he is encouraged by the strong start to the second half with like-for-like sales (excluding VAT) for the first 8 weeks of its third quarter up 4.6%.

“We will continue to focus on further improving customer service and maintaining the operational efficiency of the business and tight control over costs and cash,” said King. “We believe that, with this strategy, we are well placed to continue to deliver for the remainder of the year.”

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