Department store group House of Fraser has reported that sales remain ‘in line’ on last year largely driven by its Home category.
According to its latest half year results for the 26 weeks to 30 July 2016, Home sales grew by 4.5% and was the ‘strongest-performing’ sector as total sales for the group resulted at £573.5m, in line with last year despite ‘very challenging’ conditions.
Like-for-like Branded and Concession (excluding Virgin Travel) sales increased by 2.1% and 1.3% respectively, although House Brand sales fell by 3.7%.
House of Fraser said that online sales continued to grow, up by 17.8% on a like-for-like basis, which now represents 20.7% of overall sales.
The retailer reported a gross profit growth of £2.5m to £207.2m, whilst EBITDA fell to £1.1m, due in part to a £3.9m reduction of financial services income.
During the period under review, House of Fraser launched 153 new brand shop-fits across its store portfolio, with additional stores planned for the second half of the year.
Also within store investment, five are undergoing a refurbishment project, with the expected completion date set for the end of October, as well as confirming a space at the shopping centre in Rushden Lakes, Northamptonshire, due to open in 2017, and the opening of its first Chinese store in Nanjing, scheduled to launch in ‘late 2016’, which has been inspired by its Glasgow site.
Furthermore, House of Fraser has continued to strengthen its senior operational management team with the recent appointments of David Walmsley as chief customer officer and Maria Hollins as executive director, product & trading.
Current trading has continued to be ‘volatile’ with sales for the first eight weeks to 24 September 2016 down by 2%.
Nigel Oddy, CEO of House of Fraser said: “We have, like many of our peers, experienced an extremely volatile trading environment since the final quarter of Fiscal Year 2016, and we expect this uncertain economic situation to remain for some time.
“Despite these challenging market conditions, we are pleased to have delivered like-for-like sales growth, improved cash and gross margin and increased gross profit in the first half. This is a real credit to our business and our teams.”