Best Christmas week ever for House of Fraser

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The Independent Online

Department store chain House of Fraser revealed record seasonal trading today as it offered more signs that retailers enjoyed a robust Christmas.

The chain followed the lead of rivals such as John Lewis and Next by posting like-for-like sales growth of 7.1 per cent for the eight weeks to January 2, including its best ever Christmas week and a Boxing Day sales jump of 27 per cent.

It also hailed a 33 per cent rise in sales for its "House" labels, such as Linea, Kenneth Cole, New & Lingwood, Howick and Episode. Women's fashion accessories were up 20 per cent and menswear up 12 per cent on a like-for-like basis, it added.

Chief executive John King said the performance reflected ongoing efforts to improve the business, such as through store refurbishment activity and efforts to develop the popularity of the own-brand products.

He added: "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."



Online sales were up 91 per cent in the eight-week period, with cosmetics, knitwear and boots being the most in-demand items.

Despite the festive improvement, House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said he remained cautious about trading prospects in 2010.

"However, we are confident that investments we have made across our portfolio since being taken private will mean our customers have many reasons to visit our stores over the coming year," he added.

House of Fraser has 62 stores in the UK and Ireland, including four recently opened shops at the Westfield Centre in London, in Bristol, High Wycombe and Belfast. It employs around 16,000 people.

The retailer was taken private by Highland Holdings in November 2006 in a £350 million deal. It was backed by Icelandic retail investor Baugur, which collapsed earlier this year. Baugur's 34 per cent stake in the retailer was then put into the hands of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

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