Department store division sold
Merchant Retail Group, owner of The Perfume Shop, has completed the disposal of its Joplings department store division with the sale of the remaining two stores in the chain. The stores in Sunderland and Hexham have been acquired by Liverpool-based department store retailer Owen Owen for an aggregate worth about£8 million.

Merchant reported an 8 per cent rise in group sales for the eight weeks to January 8 compared with the same period last year. Like-for-like sales increased by 5 per cent.

The results were bolstered by the performance of The Perfume Shop, which produced like-for-like sales up 6 per cent for both the eight-week and 41-week periods, despite problems with a new EPoS system. There are 111 Perfume Shop stores.

At Joplings, margins were affected by a closing down sale at Tynedale Park, which will cease trading at the end of January. Like-for-like sales for the eight-week period were up 1 per cent at both Joplings and the the retailer's trophy De Gruchy department store in Jersey.