Retail news round-up August 19, 2013: House of Fraser considers stock market return, Karen Millen introduces tailoring service, Phones 4U to expand, Joules profits rise and the Treasury dismisses online sales tax calls

House of Fraser considers return to the stock market

Department store chain House of Fraser is considering a possible return to the stock market after an absence of nearly a decade.

House of Fraser have held takeover talks with Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, and Qatari investors. However, the talks failed and now it is considering a possible return to public ownership, which could be valued at between £200 million and £300 million, The Telegraph reported.

House of Fraser is 20% owned by its chairman Don McCarthy and family and a further 49% is controlled by representatives of failed Icelandic banks and other significant shareholders including Scottish tycoon Tom Hunter and Lloyds Banking Group.

Karen Millen to launch tailoring services at Selfridges London

Karen Millen is to launch an exclusive made-to-measure tailoring service next week at Selfridges London. The launch will offer a range of tailoring services, including the crafting of suits, jackets and coats.

Karen Millen will also offer a small range of limited edition pieces with sometimes no more than 30 of a particular style released worldwide alongside the tailoring service. This exclusive range will be available both at Selfridges London and online at from today.

Phones 4U to open 110 new stores creating 900 new jobs

Mobile phone retailer Phones 4u plans to open up to 110 new stores next year that will create about 900 jobs. The company expects bulk of the jobs to go to people between 18 to 24 year as it seeks to play an active role in tackling youth unemployment.

Debenhams to launch French fashion giant Promod’s concessions

Department store Debenhams has announced that French fashion stalwart Promod will be joining its portfolio of concession brands.

Debenhams is to open Promod concessions in its stores in Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow this month, following a successful trial in four of its Irish stores. Debenhams will also launch a Promod concession in its new Oxford Street flagship store after completion of its £25m refit later this year.

Joules’ profits rise as sales surge

Fashion retailer Joules has seen profits rise almost 50% in the past year as its heritage look clothes attracted more customers.

The company saw sales surge 19% to £79 million and pre-tax profit jump from £1.1 million to £3.7 million last year. The company managed to reduce its net debt to £1.6m from £5.5m, despite a £5m investment in new shops and infrastructure improvements, The Telegraph reported.

Treasury dismisses online sales tax demands

The Treasury has dismissed the prospect of introducing a new sales tax on web-based retailers stating that an online sales tax would damage a flourishing sector in the UK and hamper job creation.

The decision comes after a debate in the retail industry about the alleged imbalance in tax payments between internet companies and high street shops, The Telegraph reported.

In a letter to the chief executives of Ocado, N Brown, Shop Direct, Boden, Appliances Online and, the Treasury said the Government favoured “an approach which aims to ensure common principles apply to all businesses whether operating online, from physical premises or with a combination”.