House of Fraser shines

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The Independent Online

House of Fraser has become the latest large retailer to post storming festive-trading results, driven by a strong performance from its new stores and branded offer.

The 62-department store chain's performance is expected to be ahead of its rival, Debenhams, which updates on its festive trading tomorrow, but well behind John Lewis's powerful Christmas sales.

House of Fraser toasted underlying sales up by 7.1 per cent for the 8 weeks to 2 January. John King, its chief executive, said the strong performance had largely been driven off its own bat. Underlying sales at its new stores surged by 10 per cent, outstripping existing outlets. "We have brought in new brands and invested in stores, which customers have responded to," he said.

House of Fraser had a record week to the end of Christmas Eve and the strong momentum continued the following week. On a record Boxing Day, the department store delivered underlying sales – on stores open more than one year – up by 27 per cent.

Mr King said: "London and Belfast were very strong. We had a good performance in the South East, South West and Scotland."

House of Fraser said the best-selling product was its own-brand Linea animal-print handbag, which helped catapult sales of its branded handbags up by 480 per cent. Overall sales of the department store's own-label and exclusive brands jumped by 33 per cent over the 8 weeks.

Mr King added: "We are on for a very, very good year in terms of sales and profits," although he declined to provide any forecast figures for the year to the end of January.

But House of Fraser's festive trade was eclipsed by John Lewis's, which posted like-for-like sales up 12.7 per cent for the five weeks to 2 January. Debenhams is expected to deliver underlying sales which were either flat or down by 1 per cent for the 19 weeks to 9 January.

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