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Selfridges delivers record profits for 2015 thanks to online success

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Four-store Selfridges talked positively about its “fifth” store over the weekend – namely its digital ops. Selfridges, which now delivers to customers in 130 countries, said online expansion helped to drive operating profits 3.4% higher in its latest financial year to reach a record £155m.

The UK-based upscale fashion department store also saw overall sales rise 4.3% to £1.3bn for year ending January 2015, helped by personalisation and some really quite quirky services as well as online. For instance, the company’s stores are undertaking Jedi Master training sessions for kids this month and next as part of the publicity blitz behind the new Star Wars movie.

“Digital is now a key driver of growth for us. We think of it as a fifth store,” MD Anne Pitcher said.

Unlike giant department store chains, such growth doesn’t mean huge investment in bricks-&-mortar locations for a “chain” and with only four stores, Selfridges is in an enviable position: it has the flagships, it has the prestige and the global recognition, but it doesn’t have the heavy maintenance costs.

Not that the company is neglecting physical stores. The Galen Weston-owned group also cited further investment in expanding its four UK locations as helping to boost sales.

The retailer is still part-way through a major £300m revamp of its original Oxford Street flagship site, which will include more retail space. The store, like rival Harrods, benefits from being a tourist magnet as much as a mere shop and is a crucial factor in Selfridges’ success.

The group also opened a new beauty hall in Birmingham and added more luxury designers to its store in Manchester. The latter is the only place outside London that has a Christian Louboutin store, benefiting from the huge appetite for luxury brands in the North of England.

Group managing director Paul Kelly said: “Our performance has consolidated our lead and combined with our £300m investment places Selfridges in the top tier of global luxury retailing.”

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