Department store group House of Fraser (HoF) is seeking to grab a larger slice of the internet shopping market by introducing deliveries seven days a week.
The company, which owns Edinburgh institution Jenners, said the service is a first for the UK retail sector and will initially cost customers £6 an order when it goes live next month.
Andy Harding, HoF’s executive director for multi-channel, said shoppers who buy goods online before midnight will be able to receive them between 6pm and 10pm the following evening.
He added: “We listened to customer feedback which suggested a need for a more flexible delivery fulfilment based around standard working hours.
“A four-hour delivery window, post standard working hours, seemed like the most logical and convenient time. It was also important that customers had the opportunity to shop late and receive their goods the next day.”
Along with rivals such as John Lewis and Next, HoF has been revamping its online offering and now lets customers shop for more than 1,300 brands via its website. Marks & Spencer has also revamped its website and its online business now accounts for 13 per cent of general merchandise sales. It currently offers free next-day deliveries to stores.
HoF recently reported record sales and profits in the face of “difficult” market conditions as it benefited from the boom in internet shopping. Defying the gloom afflicting other parts of the high street, the chain posted a gross profit of £403.8 million for the year to 26 January, an increase of 4.3 per cent on the previous year.
Sales grew 3.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £1.2 billion, boosted by a 53 per cent jump in online takings, which now account for almost 11 per cent of the total.
Harding said: “Overall, we believe we now offer the most comprehensive online shopping experience available.
“We’re constantly investing in our multi-channel business and these changes demonstrate our determination to be the destination department store for customers. We will continue to listen to our customers’ feedback to further develop our offering.”
HoF, which has 61 stores across the UK and Ireland, is also planning to introduce “same day” deliveries to selected branches by Christmas, allowing shoppers to order online until 11am and pick up their items from 5pm.
The firm was taken private in 2006 and is part-owned by nationalised Icelandic lender Landsbanki. Other shareholders include entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter and Don McCarthy, the retailer’s chairman.
McCarthy said recently that the retailer expects economic conditions to remain subdued, but the chain’s strong trading performance had continued into the new financial year, with like-for-like sales up 4.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to 27 April.
The group is reported to have attracted the interest of the Qatari royal family, who bought Harrods for £1.5bn three years ago. HoF owned Harrods between 1959 and 1985.