The relaunch of iconic fashion brand Biba has gone down a storm with shoppers and first-half profits have leaped, House of Fraser reported.

Since Biba went on sale at the start of this month it has become the department store group’s biggest womenswear label.

Own-brands are key to House of Fraser’s strategy and the intention is for them to account for between 30% and 40% of the sales mix within three years, compared to 11% now.

Sales of house brands climbed 62% in the 26 weeks to July 31, when the group’s gross transaction value rose 5.5% to £480.6m.  EBITDA rose 22% to £13m.

Like-for-likes advanced 8.4% in the period, and in the first seven weeks of the second half improved to 10%.

House of Fraser chief executive John King described the first-half performance as strong and said: “We are very encouraged by the strong demand for our house brands from customers and particularly pleased with the recent launch of Biba. We expect to see the improving margin impact as these become a larger part of our sales mix.”

House of Fraser, which was taken private in 2006, reported that online sales rocketed 150% in the first half and that debt levels were cut.

The retailer expects its first franchised store to open in Abu Dhabi in 2012 in partnership with Retail Arabia.