Byline: James Fallon

LONDON (FNS)--House of Fraser PLC, one of the U.K.'s largest department store groups, reported a 97.2 percent rise in operating profits to $11.14 million (7.1 million pounds) on a 6.8 percent rise in sales to $511.19 million (325.6 million pounds) for the half year ended July 30.
This compares with operating profits of $5.6 million (3.6 million pounds) on sales of $478 million (304.7 million pounds) in the corresponding period a year earlier.
As a result of $13.34 million (8.5 million pounds) in exceptional costs associated with its stock-market flotation in March, the company had an increased loss after taxes of $4.39 million (2.8 million pounds), up from $785,000 (500,000 pounds).
Brian McGowan, House of Fraser's chairman, said year-to-year operating profits rose 11 percent in the first half and sales were up 10 percent. Sales of women's apparel grew by more than 10 percent, he added.
The second half began slowly, but the group hit its September sales target, McGowan said.
House of Fraser, which recently hired Ira Neimark, former chairman and chief executive of Bergdorf Goodman, as a consultant, operates 56 stores throughout the U.K.
It has begun a three-year refurbishing program involving 40 stores, with 11 slated for renovation this year. Dickins & Jones, the company's flagship on Regent Street has already undergone a facelift.
House of Fraser plans to open a 120,000-square-foot store in Swindon in October 1996 and close one of its Newcastle stores in January due to poor performance.
--Fairchild News Service

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