House of Fraser says aggressive marketing helped the department store chain to grow sales by 4.5% over the five weeks to January 3. The positive results come in a week of varying updates from rival retailers, including John Lewis and Debenhams.
The chain’s like-for-like sales dropped by 1.5% over the period but gross profit was up on the previous year.
Don McCarthy, House of Fraser chairman, says: “There is no doubt the retail sector has experienced one of its toughest years to date. However, our performance over Christmas was positive and we are satisfied with the robustness of our business.”
He adds that the outlook for 2009 “remains challenging” but he warns that it will review its brand portfolio with a view to culling failing ranges. He says: “We do anticipate changes to our brand portfolio, as underperforming brands will leave our business and brands that are performing well will grow alongside new brands introduced this year.”
McCarthy says the chain “anticipates” being in a strong position at the end of its financial year and has cash deposits in excess of £85m and a working capital facility of £100m.