This story first appeared in the April 22, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
House of Fraser said in a trading update Tuesday it will open stores “across China,” starting with three large units in Nanjing, Chongqing and Xuzhou. Last year, following the sale, the store talked openly about its plans to roll out flagships in China.
The store will also start to trade online in China, and other international markets, beginning with Australia.
House of Fraser said sales in the year to Jan. 31 were up 5.8 percent on a like-for-like basis, with online sales representing 15.4 percent of the total figure. The chain’s gross transactional value for the year was 1.3 billion pounds, or $2.13 billion.
The privately owned store does not release revenue or net profit figures.
Gross profit for the period hit a “record level” at 460.2 million pounds, or $754.7 million, while adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was up 7 percent to 64.4 million pounds, or $105.6 million.
Dollar figures have been calculated at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
Trading in the first 11 weeks to April 18 is up 6.5 percent, the company said, with further improvement in the gross margin rate in the period.
“The continued growth has been driven by successes in each of our key strategic pillars,” said Nigel Oddy, the store’s newly appointed chief executive. “Our online business has performed exceptionally strongly and has substantial future potential. The Web store has been the largest single store in terms of sales for the last three years and, for the first time this year, it has become the most profitable store in the group.
“Overall, we have continued to enhance our premium department store positioning and this is reflected in our strong current trading. We are very excited by the future as we embark on the next phase of growth both in the U.K. and internationally,” he added.
In the U.K., Oddy said the plan is to “significantly increase” the level of investment in the multi-channel proposition and the refurbishment of the store portfolio, with six store upgrades planned in the coming year.
Internationally, House of Fraser will open its second franchise store in Abu Dhabi later this year and has plans to open further stores in the Middle East.
Nanjing Cenbest acquired the British retailer last year in a deal that values the latter at around 480 million pounds, or $804.3 million. As reported, Sanpower has plans to open at least 20 shops across China, with the first unit to open in Nanjing.