By  on February 18, 2009

BERLIN — Better-than-expected holiday sales in its Karstadt department store chain and increases in the Thomas Cook travel business helped Arcandor Group increase EBITDA in the first quarter.

After losses in recent quarters, the 127-door Karstadt division reported a 2.4 percent increase in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to reach $183.7 million, or 139.3 million euros, for the three months ended Dec. 31. Sales eked out a 0.1 percent rise to reach $1.67 billion, or 1.27 billion euros. Karstadt’s fashion sales were up 4 percent, the group said.

Dollar figures were converted from euros at average exchange rates for the period.

Primondo catalogue sales were essentially flat, but adjusted EBITDA slumped 23 percent. However, the Quelle catalogue business, Primondo’s largest unit, showed significant gains in German e-commerce sales, where it holds the number-three market position.

Group EBITDA, adjusted to reflect changes in reporting structure, rose 17.5 percent to 179.8 million euros, or $237.1 million. Sales rose 1.1 percent to $6.32 billion, or 4.79 billion euros.

In light of the economic crisis, Arcandor declined to make sales and earnings projections for the current year. However, outgoing chairman Thomas Middelhof said “trading in the second quarter is on track.”

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