The results lend support to analysts' expectations of a reasonable Christmas for retailers. Harvey Lipsith, chief executive of Allders Group - which was floated on the stock market last year - said the figures were 'very pleasing, particularly in the light of poor November sales ahead of the Budget, and may reflect an element of pent-up demand'. But he said it was too early to assess margins over the period.
In the quarter to December, sales at the department stores were up 4 per cent, in line with expectations. The group said its duty-free stores - which represent more than half its sales but are less dependent on Christmas - were also trading well.
Meanwhile, Lloyds Chemists said sales in the last six months of 1993 were 17 per cent higher year- on-year, at about pounds 460m.
The statement was in line with the group's comments at its annual meeting in November, but the shares still gained 3p to 358p.
Sales at the core chemist chain rose 9 per cent. New openings helped its drugstores and Holland and Barrett health food shops to sales increases of 25 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Excluding new space, however, the increases dropped to 1 per cent and 3 per cent.