House of Fraser has reported a record Christmas, buoyed by Black Friday and strong online sales growth, helping lift expectations for the department store group's full-year results.
Like-for-like sales for the six weeks to January 3 rose eight per cent, with online sales up 31.2 per cent while sales from bricks and mortar stores rose 4.2 per cent. It singled out its house brands – names such as Linea and Army & Navy – as performing particularly well, up 11.2 per cent.
While Black Friday is expected to have eaten into margins for most retailers, HoF said its cash gross margins rose nine per cent year-on-year.
On the day itself, online sales were up 125 per cent on the same date in 2013. and up nearly 70 per cent on HoF's previous record for online sales.
The department store, which last year was bought by Chinese retail group Nanjing Xinjiekou, also delivered a record seven days before Christmas, with a 6.8 per cent improvement in the gross margin rate, while like-for-likes were up 6.7 per cent.
HoF chief executive John King said he was “delighted” with the performance, which he said reflected improvements to the online business as well as stores, and quality of house brands and third party brands.
King added: “With the record sales and margin performance in the period and a close focus on operational efficiencies, we expect to report a further growth in full year earnings.”
Continued investment in the store portfolio and international openings meant HoF Was “well placed to continue to grow in 2015,” he said.