Harvey Nicks sees 3.2% gain in underlying sales

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The Independent Online

Harvey Nichols, the upmarket department store, said yesterday it had maintained its momentum in the initial stage of the financial year, with a 3.2 per cent gain in like-for-like sales over the first 15 weeks.

Harvey Nichols, the upmarket department store, said yesterday it had maintained its momentum in the initial stage of the financial year, with a 3.2 per cent gain in like-for-like sales over the first 15 weeks.

In June, it reported like-for-like sales for the year's first 10 weeks were up by 3.1 per cent, and posted pre-tax profits of £14.7m, a rise of nearly 6 per cent on last year.

Patrick Hanly, group commercial director for Harvey Nichols, said: "This figure is a significant improvement on last year showing positive growth, even allowing for inflation." The group's turnover, announced in June, rose modestly from £130.7m to £131.5m.

Mr Hanly added: "Harvey Nichols has most of its business still in London and we have been trading at the top end in quite a difficult environment where the pound is strong. I wouldn't say it is strong growth but I would say it is good growth. I think the most important thing is that this is an improvement on our previous financial year."

The shares, which this year have underperformed the general retailer's sector by almost 2 per cent, were down 1p yesterday to close at 151.5p.

The company has embarked on a programme of expansion, and recently announced plans to spend £24m on a fourth store in Manchester, adding to stores in London and Leeds and a third in Edinburgh, which is due to open in 2002.

It recently licensed its first overseas branch in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of its expansion programme into affluent locations worldwide.

The company is also thinking of introducing small Harvey Nichols stores across the UK in fashion-conscious locations such as Cheltenham, Bath and Newcastle, which would sell mainly own-brand products. In addition, Harvey Nichols has said it may open other London restaurants to complement its Oxo Tower and Prism eateries.

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