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House of Fraser delivers record Christmas trading, online strong as house brands shine

House of Fraser (HoF) reported record Christmas trading, which began with a Black Friday bonanza, as the UK and Ireland department store group said Tuesday it expects to report further growth in full year earnings.

Same-store sales for the six weeks to January 3 jumped 8% as gross margins for the period lifted 9% on-year. The retailer said growth was seen across all categories and routes to market with a particularly strong performance in House Brands, up 11.2%.

Strong sales continued throughout the trading period with a record last seven days before Christmas, up 6.8% on-year, with an improvement in the gross margin rate, it noted.

Overall, online sales starred in the six weeks, jumping 31.2% on-year, while brick & mortar store sales rose a more modest 4.2%.

Black Friday online sales leapt over 125% on-year and was up almost 70% on the previous largest online sales day, the retailer added.
Comp sales for first 10 weeks of Q4 are also up 6.7%, with gross margin up 7.5%.

A “delighted” CEO John King said: “This year we saw a very strong start to the key Christmas season with Black Friday being particularly successful. This positive momentum continued over the entire critical selling period with a record sales level during the final week before Christmas.

“Our performance demonstrates the success of our strategy to continuously improve our online proposition, develop both our House Brands and premium branded proposition and invest in our stores to give our customers the best possible shopping experience.”

He 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. Given… further investment, we believe that we are well placed to continue to grow in 2015.”

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