House of Fraser beats John Lewis in Christmas sales battle

House of Fraser beats John Lewis in Christmas sales battle
House of Fraser, the department store chain, says it is “delighted” with its performance during the vital Christmas period after recording an 8pc rise in like-for-like sales.

The performance from House of Fraser is better than that of rival John Lewis, which said its like-for-like sales were up 4.8pc compared to the Christmas period last year and warned that sales in its stores were flat.

House of Fraser said that like-for-like sales rose 8pc in the six weeks to January 3. This included a 31.2pc increase in online sales and a 4.2pc rise in like-for-like sales across House of Fraser’s 59 stores in the UK and Ireland.

The rise in Christmas sales caps an interesting year for House of Fraser. The retailer is now controlled by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, which completed a deal to buy 89pc of the retailer during the year. The remaining 11pc is in the hands of Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, who tried to scupper the deal with Sanpower.

Sanpower has given the go-ahead for House of Fraser to invest £150m in the UK over the next four years in store revamps and developing its online operations. It is also exploring international expansion, including a second location in Abu Dhabi.

House of Fraser’s sales figures have been treated with a degree of scepticism in the past by the City because the retailer discloses less information about its performance than publicly-listed rivals.

John King, chief executive, said: “We are delighted with our Christmas trading performance. 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.

“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.

“I would like to thank all of our colleagues and brand partners for their hard work and support over this period.”

Meanwhile, Jigsaw, the retailer run by former John Lewis director Peter Ruis, also reported robust sales figures, giving hope to other high street retailers.

Jigsaw said like-for-like sales in the five weeks to January 3 rose 10pc, despite operating amid “extreme discounting” on the high street.

Mr Ruis said: “In many ways it was an old fashioned retail Christmas, gifts and accessories at the fore, last minute footfall driven by the cold snap and pent up demand for the first few days of the sale.

“Our omnichannel performance was anything but old fashioned with web orders taken up to the 23rd of December and delivered pre-Christmas”.


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