House of Fraser posts leap in 2010 profits

House of Fraser, the department store group, has posted a sharp rise in annual profits and issued a £250m bond to give it a cheaper debt structure and free up cashflow to invest in the business.

The 61-store chain said trading had been "encouraging" over the first 13 weeks of its financial year, with like-for-like sales up by 3 per cent.

For the year to 29 January, the privately held House of Fraser lifted underlying earnings by 44 per cent to £85.7m. Sales rose 2.3 per cent to £1.1bn in total and by 4.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis. The chain said it had reduced its net debt to £161m.

Elsewhere, French Connection, the listed fashion retailer, said it was "confident" it would hit its financial targets for the year after a positive reaction to its autumn ranges.

Between 1 February and 14 May, robust wholesale volumes helped lift group revenues by 3.6 per cent, despite a 1.8 per cent fall in underlying retail sales in Europe. Analysts at Numis forecast pre-tax profits of £8.8m in the 12 months to January 2012, compared with £7.3m the year before.