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House of Fraser toasts Christmas success

House of Fraser said like-for-like sales over the eight weeks to January 2 rose 7.1%.

House of Fraser, the department store which was acquired by a consortium of investors including collapsed Icelandic group Baugur in November 2006, said the period included the retailer’s biggest ever Christmas week. Sales rose 27% on a like-for-like basis on Boxing Day and online sales soared 91% on last year during the period.

House of Fraser said that gross profit also rose on the back of “stronger” product and the department store’s pricing offer.

Sales of House of Fraser’s own-brands which include Linea, Kenneth Cole, New & Lingwood, Howick and Episode, rose by 33%. Sales of Linea jumped 20%, Howick reported a 41% sales increase and own-brand handbag sales rose 480%.

House of Fraser said that sales across its entire offer were “strong”. Women’s fashion accessories grew 20% and menswear sales jumped 12% on a like-for-like basis.

“The general outlook for retailing will be tough until the overall national economic position improves and we remain cautious for 2010.

However, we are confident the investments we have made across our portfolio since the take private will mean our customers have many reasons to visit our stores over the coming year.”

House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy

Concessions sales grew 12.7% over the period. 

House of fraser added that cosmetics, knitwear and boots were the most in-demand items online over Christmas.

House of Fraser said that stock leveles were down 14% due to improved stock management systems.

House of Fraser chief executive John King said: “We are particularly pleased with our performance over this key trading period, which has continued a trend of improved performance within the business over the year.

“Our results are a demonstration that our customers continue to respond positively to the changes we have been making throughout the business.

“The growth of our online business has been encouraging, as has the performance of our many House [own] brands. It was pleasing that we had our biggest ever Christmas week and Boxing Day, with some of our stores, such as Oxford Street, experiencing their strongest ever performance.”

House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy added: “The general outlook for retailing will be tough until the overall national economic position improves and we remain cautious for 2010.

“However, we are confident the investments we have made across our portfolio since the take private will mean our customers have many reasons to visit our stores over the coming year.

“We believe product offering and innovation will be key, and to this end our plans to introduce and extend our House brands offer with the launch of exciting new brands will give our stores a freshness and vibrancy.”

House of Fraser acquired iconic British brand Biba in November and has introduced Label Lab and Pied-a-Terre for 2010.

McCarthy added that the business is “well ahead” of its debt payment schedule and will be £130m ahead of plan by the end of this month.

He said: “We will continue our debt reduction programme in 2010 and the overall financial position of the business is very strong and well positioned for the challenges ahead.”

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