Strong Christmas after Baguar takeover
Department store group House of Fraser, acquired by Icelandic investor Baugur for£351.4 million in November last year, has posted surging like-for-likes over Christmas.

In the four weeks to December 30, comparable store sales advanced 7.3 per cent on the previous year and Christmas week itself was the best in the company's history. HoF said that margins at the 61-store business were 'in line with expectations'.

HoF chief executive John King, the former Matalan boss who joined the department store group after Baugur's takeover, said the performance showed the chain was shoppers' 'number one choice for designer brands' and he anticipated 'an exciting year of further strong progress'.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said the sales advance was especially impressive against a strong comparative in Christmas last year, when the like-for-like uplift was 7.7 per cent. However, he cautioned that the performance may not have been replicated across the department store sector. He said: 'It could be dangerous to assume that Debenhams has performed in line.'