Record Christmas at House of Fraser
House of Fraser has reported a record Christmas trading period boosted by a strong performance from "Black Friday" promotions at the end of November.
The department store chain said like-for-like sales were up 8% for the six weeks to January 3 with profit margins also ahead. Over the first 10 weeks of the fourth quarter, like-for-like sales grew by 6.7%.
It is the latest solid retail update after the festive period following figures from Next and John Lewis and comes ahead of Marks & Spencer, which is due to report on its Christmas performance on Thursday.
The House of Fraser figures showed online sales for the six-week period led the way with 31.2% growth, while stores also improved with a like-for-like increase of 4.2%.
Black Friday online sales were up by more than 125% on the previous year and 70% on the previous largest online sales day, in further evidence that the US-imported retail phenomenon has taken hold in the UK.
The success of the day appeared not to have depressed performance in the seven days before Christmas, which saw record sales.
It is House of Fraser's first festive trading update since its £480 million takeover by China's Sanpower, which completed in September.
Chief executive John King 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.
"Our performance demonstrates the success of our strategy to continuously improve our online proposition, develop both our House brands and premium branded proposition and invest in our stores to give our customers the best possible shopping experience."
Mr King said the sales and profit margin performance, together with a focus on efficiencies, meant the firm expected to report further growth in full-year earnings.
He said House of Fraser would continue to invest in online, where it expected to see continued growth.
Meanwhile, further store refurbishments are planned after an upgrade in its Bath outlet saw sales increase by 27%.
Mr King said the business also planned to build on its international portfolio and looked well placed to continue to grow in 2015.
The 165-year-old retailer has 59 sites across the UK and Ireland, plus two small "dot.com concept stores", as well as a franchise store in Abu Dhabi, with a second planned to open in the region during the year.
It has 6,800 staff and 13,000 concession employees. Annual sales for 2013/14 were £1.2 billion.