House of Fraser has recorded flat adjusted EBITDA of £7.5m in the first half, when like-for-likes edged up 3.3%.
The department store group reported a positive start to its second half. Like-for-likes nudged up 1.1% in the eight weeks to September 21 and gross margin rose more than 100 basis points.
The retailer said investment in house brands and multichannel led to flat EBITDA in the period to July 27.
Gross transaction values hit £522.1m and online was the star performer as sales soared 57%. The retailer launched services such as next day guaranteed evening delivery and a new mobile and iPhone app during the half.
Margin increased 60 basis points year on year to 35.5%. Own-brand continued to thrive, delivering sales up 13% and gross profit ahead 18%.
New house brand launches such as Living by Christiane Lemieux in home and Army & Navy in menswear and range extension helped the performance. House of Fraser said there were “particularly strong performances” from Label Lab, Linea Weekend and Howick.
The retailer strengthened its premium branded proposition with roll-outs of brands including Jo Malone, Hugo Boss Woman and L’Agent by Agent Provocateur.
House of Fraser said its refurbished stores delivered a “solid performance”, and sales at Oxford Street jumped 10%.
House of Fraser chief executive John King said: “We are pleased to report another solid set of results with increasing success in our key areas of online and house brand development.
“We took deliberate action to continue to invest in our multichannel and house brand businesses which has meant higher costs in the first half resulting in EBITDA being level.
“However, we expect that this investment will deliver growth for the second half. We remain confident that the group’s business model, with our premium brand positioning, growing house brand mix and multichannel operations, positions us strongly for the foreseeable future.”