Christmas cheer for House of Fraser as online shopping drives record sales

Online sales climbed a record breaking 58% as HoF celebrated 'best ever' Christmas

Department store chain House of Fraser has reported what it described as its "best ever" Christmas trading period driven by a surge in online shopping.

House of Fraser which has hired Rothschild to advise on a spring float and is being wooed by French group Galeries Lafayette — fattened margins at Christmas and said sales at stores open for more than a year were up 7.3 per cent in the three weeks to December 28.

This included record sales at its Oxford Street flagship as well as Belfast and Glasgow.

Direct comparisons with last year’s festive trading are more difficult because a year ago HoF defined the Christmas period as the six weeks to January 5.

But chief executive John King said customers are also flooding online, with digital sales up a record breaking 58 per cent and margins up almost 9 per cent.

“We did targeted promotions before Christmas but we held our nerve — there was no panic discounting,” he said.

HoF saw peak Christmas trading arrive later but sales played to its traditional strengths with fashion accounting for around 70 per cent of revenues. Sales of fashion accessories performed strongly with key drivers being handbags as sales rose 20 per cent.

Brands such as Boss and Ralph Lauren, up 30 per cent and 12 per cent respectively, bolstered menswear.

Meanwhile, Jo Malone and Chanel drove an 11 per cent rise in fragrance sales as overall fashion sales rose 9.8 per cent.

King said he was “looking forward” to the spring float of the business but refused to comment on the reported interest from Galeries Lafayette. “There has been speculation over this business every year  since 2008,” he said.

The firm has 60 stores in the UK and Ireland.