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Record sales of £1.3bn for Beatties owner

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Fashion brands like Biba, Linea and Criminal have helped department store chain House of Fraser - owner of Wolverhampton's Beatties - hit a record sales figure of £1.3 billion in the last year.

Stylish new fashions for both men and women have boosted sales both online and at the chain's 59 stores around the UK.

As a result of record sales, up 5.8 per cent, House of Fraser has delivered record gross profits of £460.2 million for its new Chinese owners, up £29.6m on the previous year.

In-store sales are up 2.2 per cent, while online sales have surged 32 per cent and now make up more than 15 per cent of the total.

House of Fraser is planning further improvements to its website and delivery service as it gears up to launch online in China and other international markets such as Australia.

And things are still moving in the right direction for House of Fraser, with sales up 6.5 per cent over the last 11 weeks.

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Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: "We are pleased to report another year of record sales and gross profit and a further improvement in the group's earnings.

"Our online business has performed exceptionally strongly and has substantial future potential. The web store has been the largest single store in terms of sales for the last three years and, for the first time this year, it has become the most profitable store in the group.

"We are very excited by the future as we embark on the next phase of growth both in the UK and internationally."

House of Fraser, bought by Nanjing-based Sanpower for £480 million last year, is planning to open three new Chinese stores next year as it expands overseas. More stores are also planned in the Middle East.

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Back home in the UK it is planning a revamp of six more stores as part of a rolling programme of store upgrades. And the work is paying off; improvements to the House of Fraser store in Bath Group have driven sales growth of 30 per cent.

And, while chains such as Debenhams and Marks & Spencer are working hard to get their fashion lines right, House of Fraser has steadily built sales.

Analysts feel House of Fraser is in close touch with what its customers want, and its house brands, such as Linea and Biba in womenswear and Criminal and New & Lingwood in menswear, have performed particularly well.

The chain is also quick off the mark at getting the latest styles in front of customers, with new lines from Polo Ralph Lauren womenswear and Michael Kors womenswear and menswear helping to keep the tills ringing.