House of Fraser profits lifted by own brands

House of Fraser's strategy to focus on its own brands looks to have paid off, after sales in the division surged more than 60 per cent.

The group relaunched the "1960s iconic fashion" brand Biba earlier this month, fronted by model Daisy Lowe, and sales hit £30,000 in the first week. It has since established itself as the single biggest womenswear brand in the business. When House of Fraser was taken private by Highland Group Holdings four years ago it had three own-brand labels; there are now 15. These represent just over 10 per cent of sales, and Highland says it is on track to bring that to somewhere north of 30 per cent in three years.

The news emerged in a market and strategy update covering the 26 weeks to the end of July, which showed revenues rose 5.5 per cent to £481m. Online sales were up 150 per cent, and the group said e-commerce was worth £35m over the past 12 months. It has targeted £200m by 2013.

The chief executive, John King, said the group was confident sales would grow in the second half despite the tough trading environment.

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