Online sales grew 20.2% and House Brands sales rose 7.7% in the first quarter

Online sales grew 20.2% and House Brands sales rose 7.7% in the first quarter

Higher online sales and increased demand for its own brands helped UK department store retailer House of Fraser to book a 2% rise in first-quarter like-for-like sales.

In a trading update the company, which was acquired by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group in April, said online sales excluding VAT increased 20.2% during the 13 weeks to 26 April, representing 15.1% of sales.

Sales of House Brands increased 7.7%, while Branded and Concession sales were each up 1%. Gross margin improved 50 basis points to 35.7%.

The group's adjusted EBITDA loss of GBP3.4m (US$5.8m), meanwhile, was "in line with management expectations for the year".

CEO John King said the company is "pleased" with its first-quarter sales performance, with both stores and the web delivering sales and margin growth. 

House of Fraser said further improvement has continued in the opening weeks of the second quarter, with sales rising 5.5% year-on-year and up 3.7% on a like-for-like basis for the first 21 weeks of fiscal 2015.

King added that the company is "excited for its future growth prospects in the UK and abroad" and "remain confident that the group's business model, with its premium brand positioning, growing House Brand mix and multi-channel operations, positions it strongly for the foreseeable future".