House of Fraser appears to have shrugged off the festive blues plaguing other retailers, with sales up 5.3 per cent for the six weeks to 2 January.
The Chinese-owned department store, said it had had a strong Christmas trading period, starting with Black Friday, when sales were up 10 per cent on the previous year, driven largely by the group's biggest ever online sales day, which was up 40 per cent.
Over the six weeks, sales were up 5.3 per cent, and up 16.7 per cent on the year before. Cash gross margins also rose, up 6.4 per cent.
On the week in the run up to Christmas itself, like-for-likes excluding VAT were up six per cent, with online sales responsible for the bulk of that, as sales rose 61.8 per cent, while in store sales climbed 2.2 per cent.
There was continued momentum in the week after Christmas, with like-for-like sales up 6.8 per cent in the seven days after Christmas.
Why it's interesting
Compared with some of the other businesses to have reported Christmas figures, HoF seems to have weathered the period well.
In the first full year being majority owned by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, HoF has posted record sales, set out plans for major international expansion (particularly in China) and undergone a major reshuffle of its top roles after long-standing chief executive John King left the business in February.
Rather than destabilise the business, it appears to be gaining in strength, which will stand it in good stead for its assault on the Chinese market this year.
What HoF said
Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: “We are delighted with our Christmas trading performance both in terms of sales growth and margin improvement.”
“This year, we saw a very strong start to the key Christmas season with Black Friday being particularly strong online, with sales up 40% on the year – our biggest online day ever. Our stores have also performed well over the festive period, in particular our recently refurbished stores which showed strong growth in the final week before Christmas.”
“The performance demonstrates the success of our ongoing strategy: to continuously improve our online proposition; to develop our house brands and premium brand proposition and work closely with our concession partners; and to invest in our stores to provide our customers with the best possible shopping experience."
Chairman Frank Slevin added: “I would like to thank my colleagues and brand partners for their hard work and support over this crucial but often challenging trading period. The strong trading performance delivered by the business is a testament to the strategic direction the board has set for the business and the ongoing investment in the group.”