House of Fraser boss Alex Williamson dubbed the retailer “a business in transition” as its Christmas sales declined.

The embattled department store retailer, which recently issued a plea to landlords to slash rents, said online sales slumped 7.5% in the six weeks to December 23.

In-store sales fell 2.9%.

House of Fraser said sales during the first week of the post-Christmas Sale were “disappointing”, but insisted they have since recovered and are “broadly in line with last year in both stores and online”.

Black Friday and online

The retailer missed last year’s Black Friday record sales performance online by 1%, but said store sales grew 0.8% during the event.

Williamson, who took the helm last year, said the focus of the business is to drive profitability, “rather than chasing revenue at any cost”.

The business grew margins by 0.5% over the Christmas period.

“We are not a business determined to sell everything to everyone at any price. What’s important, and we are seeing some success in the numbers, is to keep our discipline in selling those products that are loved by customers and profitable for House of Fraser.”

Commenting on its online performance, Williamson said: “The trajectory of our web business is now back on track following the replatforming carried out earlier in the year; our investment in our logistics and supply chain is beginning to yield dividends.

“Let’s not forget we can trade with the best of them too as we delivered another record Black Friday performance.”


Looking ahead, Williamson said the execution of the retailer’s transformation plans continue at pace.

“We are confident that we will deliver an exceptional experience for our customers and brand partners while delivering a sustainable and profitable future for House of Fraser,” he said.

House of Fraser chairman Frank Slevin said he is “satisfied” with the group’s performance in what he described as a “very difficult retail market”.

Yuan Yafei, chairman of majority stakeholder Sanpower, added: “As House of Fraser embarks on a year of significant transformation in 2018, we remain confident in its prospects.

“Sanpower is fully committed to its long-term investment in the UK retail market, and to continuing to provide all the necessary support to ensure House of Fraser’s success as the leading UK premium department store chain.”