House of Fraser, the Chinese-owned department store operator with Scottish roots, today hailed a record full-year sales performance.
Unveiling further international expansion plans, the chain said sales were up 5.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis, while adjusted underlying profits rose 7 per cent to £64.4 million. The accounts for Highland Group Holdings span the 53 weeks to 31 January.
The firm said online takings – excluding VAT – leapt 32 per cent, representing 15.4 per cent of overall sales.
It highlighted a “continued enhancement of store environments” during the year, with progress internationally including detailed plans for three large stores in China and a second outlet in Abu Dhabi “signed up and opening shortly”.
On current trading, the group said the strong momentum had continued, with sales for the first 11 weeks to 18 April up 6.5 per cent with a further improvement in the gross margin rate.
Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: “The continued growth has been driven by successes in each of our key strategic pillars.
“Our online business has performed exceptionally strongly and has substantial future potential. Our successful House Brand business was broadened by the introduction of new brands and extended into new locations, helping to drive sales growth of 10 per cent in the year.
“We have strengthened our relationships with our brand partners and continued our collaborative approach to improving store environments which has helped us to deliver sales growth from our bricks and mortar stores.
“Overall, we have continued to enhance our premium department store positioning and this is reflected in our strong current trading.”
He added: “We are confident that the group’s business model, with our premium brand positioning and strong multichannel operation will ensure that House of Fraser continues to grow and develop for the foreseeable future.
“We are very excited by the future as we embark on the next phase of growth both in the UK and internationally.”