House of Fraser today said it was ready to roll out a host of brands across its revamped department stores, despite facing “difficult” trading conditions.
The chain – owned by Icelandic investment group Baugur – is now aiming at the higher end of the market and is on track to spend €189m on an overhaul of its stores by the end of this year.
Major brands set for launch include Lauren – the new womenswear line by Ralph Lauren – while the chain has also attracted other leading designers such as Anya Hindmarch, whose 'I’m Not A Plastic Bag' eco-bag was a global sell-out last year.
New private label offerings such as Criminal – a fashion brand aimed at young male shoppers – will be launched exclusively at its 61 stores next month.
In its trading update for the six months to July 26, House of Fraser said total sales had grown 2.9%, although like-for-like comparatives were not given. Underlying earnings increased by more than 30% to around €20m over the period.
But the group added sales for its refurbished stores were 8% ahead of the rest of the chain, while sales at two new stores in Belfast and High Wycombe were 15% higher than management hopes.
Chairman Don McCarthy said: “I think John King, our chief executive, and his management team have done a great job in repositioning House of Fraser in what can only be described as difficult trading times.
“We are pleased with our performance over the six months.”
House of Fraser, which has 6,500 staff, is also planning makeovers at stores including Glasgow, Oxford Street and Manchester.
Sites also planned to receive significant investment include Bluewater, Reading, Leeds, Dundrum in Dublin and Jenners in Edinburgh.
These stores will also see new brand introductions including Versace and Hugo Boss in Oxford Street, and Mango in Leeds.
House of Fraser began life in 1941 as the drapery business Fraser, Sons & Co in Glasgow but was bought by Baugur for €442m in November 2006.
Other well-known names in the Icelandic firm’s retail portfolio include Iceland and Hamleys, while it owns sizeable stakes in companies including clothing chains Moss Bros and French Connection and department store group Debenhams.