Fast growth in online sales at House of Fraser have made the web its largest store, with growth of more than 100% just reported in the first half of its financial year.
The news came as the privately-owned company today issued a market and strategy update pointing to a half year internet sales surge in the 26 weeks to July 30. Web sales rose by 107.1% in a period that also saw like-for-like sales up by 5.3%, and gross profit rise by £4.4m to £94.9m. The website, fully redesigned and relaunched, now offers more than 1,000 brands.
A new focus on customer loyalty and improving customer service is now being put in place, with such measures recognised as especially important in the “current retail environment.” A standalone Recognition Reward Card scheme is being launched, reflecting House of Fraser’s experience that: “loyalty members on average shop more often and spend more per visit than other customers.”
The company said there was also tight controls on costs. Its costs rose by £5.1m in the first half of the year, but, said the retailer about £3m of this was related to increases in volume associated with its multichannel operations and house brands – sales of those house brands rose by 32% in the half year.
There was a slower start in the first weeks of the second half of the year, with riot-affected sales down by 1% in the first three weeks of the period. But sales recovered in the subsequent four weeks to 3.9% up, and like-for-like sales in the first seven weeks of the period were up by 1.9%.
John King, chief executive of House of Fraser, said: “Our first half performance is testament to the fact that we are taking the right steps to fulfill our customers’ needs. We have experienced a slower start to the second half, however we are encouraged by the pickup in the subsequent weeks.
“There is no doubt market conditions will remain challenging and we will remain cautious for the remainder of the year. However we believe believe that our investments in our multi-channel operations and store refurbishments combined with our exclusive House Brand offering, will continue to deliver growth.”