House of Fraser is set to announce record Christmas trading, providing fresh evidence that the consumer shrugged off the recession over the festive period. Like-for-like sales at the privately owned department store chain rose 7.1 per cent in the eight weeks to January 2, with like-for-like sales on Boxing day jumping 27 per cent on the previous year.
“The week before Christmas and the week after were our biggest Christmas sales in the history of the company,” said John King, chief executive.
“We’re still a bit cautious about the economy given the impact of the impending [general] election, but certainly the consumer behaviour we saw over Christmas was that people came out and spent.”
The rise in like-for-like sales repeated a trend seen in the results of other large retailers, including John Lewis, middle-England’s favourite retailer. Like-for-like sales at John Lewis rose 12.7 per cent in the five weeks to January 2.
While strong sales of cosmetics and accessories at House of Fraser pointed to robust gift-buying, knitwear and boots were also popular, suggesting that recent freezing weather conditions have helped drive sales.
However, Mr King said the bad weather “works both ways”, noting that a few stores inevitably suffered lower shopper numbers due to heavy snow.
Brands owned by House of Fraser traded particularly strongly in the eight weeks, with sales up 33 per cent. Sales of house brand handbags jumped almost fivefold while sales of Howick, the men’s casualwear label, gained 41 per cent.
Online sales almost doubled. Mr King said online accounted for a “very small percentage” of total sales, but was poised to become one of the biggest growth areas in the business, alongside own-brands.
House of Fraser said it was well ahead of its debt repayment schedule and would be £130m ahead of plan by the close of the company’s financial year. In September, the company said it was targeting a ratio of less than three times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to debt.
Click Here: COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 2019