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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 11:19 GMT
Stores reveal festive boom
Upmarket department store Selfridges and Woolworths owner Kingfisher have both revealed bumper Christmas sales figures.
Selfridges enjoyed a 12.9% surge in seasonal sales at its flagship Oxford Street store.
Shoppers at the group's Manchester store were even keener to spend, with sales ahead by 31.9%.
Selfridges chief executive Vittorio Radice said: "We are very pleased that our trading performance across all areas of the business shows that our `house of brands' strategy is delivering."
The figures covered the Christmas period and the first week of January sales.
The Oxford Street shop benefited from a major overhaul last year which boosted selling space by 7%.
Housing market boom
Meanwhile, Woolworths-to-Comet group Kingfisher unveiled a 30.8% jump in business in the Christmas season.
It received a big boost from the buoyant housing market, creating demand for home goods and improvement products.
In the last nine weeks of 1999, sales reached £2.59bn.
The surge included business from newly opened stores and a raft of takeovers during the year.
Like-for-like sales, which exclude the effect of increased shop space, were still ahead 6% on last year.
Kingfisher chief executive Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy said: "We are investing heavily in e-commerce and other new channels throughout the group and expect our revenue cost in this area to exceed £21m in the current year."
The strongest leap in trading was seen at the group's DIY business B&Q, where like-for-like sales were up 11.9% over the nine-week period to 1 January.
Total sales in Kingfisher's DIY division were up 30.2%, driven by the opening of eight B&Q Warehouse stores earlier in the year.
Demand for electrical goods at Christmas spurred trading at Comet where like-for-like sales were up 6.2%, helped by strong television sales.
But like-for-like sales at Superdrug were almost flat - up just 0.6% - blamed on tough trading and fierce price competition.
But Kingfisher shares fell after the company admitted profit margins would continue to come under pressure.
The companies' sales news confirms figures from the British Retail Consortium, showing high street stores enjoyed a booming Christmas.
General sales were 5.6% up in December on a year ago.
Discount retailer Matalan also reported a surge in pre-Christmas sales, which were up 42.9% on the year.
And Cardiff-based Peacocks saw sales for the five weeks to 1 January jump 28%, with like-for-like sales ahead 9%.
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