Shares in UK department store group House of Fraser have risen after the firm said it had cut half-year losses and was seeing solid sales growth.
Recent sales have held up well
Pre-tax losses before one-off items for the six months to 31 July fell to £2.5m ($4.5m) from a loss of £3.9m last year.
The firm added that sales were up 1.3% in recent weeks, as it gears up for the crucial Christmas trading period.
House of Fraser also announced a new deal with Barclaycard to manage its store cards.
House of Fraser shares closed up 3 pence at 120p.
Total sales for the six-month period were down slightly to £409.8m following store disposals and disruption following store refurbishments.
But in the eight weeks since the start of August, like-for-like sales were up by 1.3%, a better-then-expected performance, analysts said.
Chief executive John Coleman said profit margins had improved thanks to a combination of fewer discounted sales and cost controls.
"We remain confident of a satisfactory trading outcome for the full year," he added.
House of Fraser also announced it had agreed a deal with Barclaycard to manage its financial services division, which includes its store card.
The two firms will split the profits from the 10-year deal, and Barclaycard is expected to make total payments of about £25m to House of Fraser between 2005 and 2007, the retailer said.
The 150-year-old House of Fraser operates 47 department stores in the UK, opening its latest store in Croydon earlier this month.
Three more stores are planned for next year - in Dublin, Maidstone and Norwich.
Bid talk surrounding House of Fraser faded recently after two potential buyers sold their stake in the firm.
Retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter and Icelandic group Baugur sold their combined 21% stake in House of Fraser on 13 September, raising speculation that other UK retail groups could now be bid targets.