Jenners owner House of Fraser is “cautiously optimistic” for the remainder of the year after booking its first pre-tax profit in a decade.
Bosses at the venerable department store business, which operates across 59 locations in the UK and Ireland, vowed to continue with an investment programme that has seen new-look stores and departments rolled out.
The group has also been pumping money into its IT infrastructure and web-based operations, helping to push online sales – excluding VAT – up 26.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 52 weeks to 30 January.
Profit before tax and exceptional items came in at a slender £1.3 million, but it marks the first full-year profit at the retailer since 2006.
The latest accounts for Highland Group Holdings, the parent company of House of Fraser, show that sales increased by 4.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis – excluding VAT and the impact of a 53rd week in the prior year’s results – with total gross value topping a record £1.3 billion. Gross profit was up by 5.2 per cent to £484.1m.
Nigel Oddy, chief executive of House of Fraser, which was acquired by Chinese outfit Nanjing Cenbest in 2014, said: “House of Fraser is pleased to report positive sales and margin growth over the full year, delivering the first profit before tax in ten years.
“This was driven by continued progress across both our online and bricks and mortar stores, despite the volatile trading environment in the final quarter of fiscal year 2016. “We have continued to invest in our business throughout the year, strengthening our multichannel proposition and enhancing our store environments with six extensive store refurbishments completed in the year.
“This investment will continue in fiscal year 2017 when we plan to refurbish further stores and continue to develop our IT and ecommerce capabilities.”