House of Fraser has weak Christmas - report
House of Fraser reportedly had a weak Christmas trading period with a newspaper on Monday saying that its sales plummeted year-on-year in the 12 weeks up to December 18.
That's less of a surprise at the moment than it might have been in any of the previous few years with the department store chain having suffered from a wave of negative publicity, as well as some brand exits. But if correct, the scale of the decline is extremely worrying for the company’s future prospects.
The Telegraph reported that Kantar Worldpanel figures it has seen showed a plunge of 60%. That would mean it was the biggest sufferer of all in UK retail during the festive season, its decline far outstripping that of major rival Debenhams, in which HoF owner Sports Direct also holds an almost 30% stake.
That news followed Mike Ashley, the boss of Sports Direct, describing general November trading in the UK as “unbelievably bad” with retailers being “smashed to pieces”.
Sports Direct has owned House of Fraser since last August when it paid £90 million to buy the struggling chain out of administration. Since then it has scaled back the company’s plan to close more than half of it shops but has met opposition from landlords to its requests for rent concessions.
There was little more information in the Telegraph report on recent trading and Sports direct has not commented on it. It released its most recent set of interim results only last month and so no further statutory reports are due until the summer, although Mike Ashley often releases information outside of the regular calendar.
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