Selfridges' annual profits increased 35 per cent to £28.4m, helped by the early stages of a £50m refurbishment programme. Sears plans to open a smaller branch of Selfridges at Heathrow's Terminal One later this year to capitalise on the strength of the brand.
However, Liam Strong, chief executive, sounded a note of caution about current trading: "We are concerned about consumer behaviour. The first 11 weeks of the year has been challenging and the consumer remains cautious and discerning."
Sears' pre-tax profits increased 11.2 per cent to £153.8m in the year to January on sales up 7 per cent to £2.1bn.
Its shoe interests are being reduced to concentrate on four formats, Shoe Express, Shoe City, Hush Puppy and Dolcis. Though margins fell, profits rose nearly 16 per cent to £38m.
The Freemans catalogue business improved in a static market with profits up slightly to £41.3m. Losses at Olympus Sports continued. About 40 stores will close this year and the remaining 100 outlets will be re-launched. Mr Strong denied the division would be sold when profits had been restored.
The dividend rose to 2.9p. Comment, page 33