UK-based department store group House of Fraser says sales have maintained their "positive momentum" after it managed to shrug off economic uncertainty and one of the wettest April's on record to book a 2.6% rise in first-quarter sales.

The trading update comes as the group said like-for-like sales in the full year to 28 January rose 3%, buoyed by a 92% hike in online sales following the relaunch of its website. It also saw a rise of 17% in own brand sales, including Mary by Mary Portas in women's wear and Howick Tailored in men's wear.

However, underlying profits for the year were down 16% to GBP58.6m (US$92m) from GBP69.7m, which reflected the cost of opening a second distribution centre.

 "Considering the market conditions, uncertainty in the economy and the unseasonably warm autumn we believe our results are in line with fashion retailers in our sector," said chairman Don McCarthy.

"2011 was another year of investment for us, as we continued to focus on the fastest growing areas of our business.

"Looking forward, it is difficult to predict when market conditions are likely to improve. However, we remain positive that our multi-channel strategy, combined with the strength of our brand offering will continue to support the successful development of the business."