The UK's 165-year-old department store chain, the House of Fraser, thanked
Bumper online sales and strong demand for clothing for its best-ever Christmas.
The privately-owned retailer, which is in discussion for a possible takeover by French rival Galeries Lafayette, said like-for-like store sales were ahead 4.3 per cent in the first nine weeks of the fourth quarter, while sales in the three weeks to 28 December were ahead 7.3 per cent; cash gross margins rose 11.9 per cent.
Online sales, which broke records were up a hefty 57.7 per cent in the three weeks to Christmas, while fashion sales shot 9.8 per cent.
Chief executive John King attributed the performance to an ongoing investment programme that had seen House of Fraser improve its online offering and revamp stores. The retailer had also refocused on house brands and on offering more premium fashion.
King added, with the record sales and margin performance, coupled with a close focus on operational efficiencies, the retailer expected to report further growth in full-year earnings.
He added the company also expected to finish the year with lower net debt and was well placed to deliver further growth in 2014.
Rival John Lewis reported like-for-like sales were ahead 6.9 per cent in the five weeks to 28 December 2013 at £734 million, boosted by strong demand for electrical goods, beauty products and clothing.
Online sales contributed to much of its growth accounting for about one pound in every three spent by John Lewis customers.
Meanwhile, though take over talks between House of Fraser and the family-owned Galeries Lafayette are in progress, the UK-based retailer was also pursuing tentative plans to float on the London Stock Exchange.
Regarding the initial public offering King told The Times, that it was kicked off before Christmas, with the appointment of Rothschild as an adviser, and expected a listing before the end of year. He said he had not been a public company chief executive for a while and so he was looking forward to it.