John Lewis and House of Fraser enjoy festive cheer

The Northern Echo: John Lewis and House of Fraser have both reported strong Christmas sales John Lewis and House of Fraser have both reported strong Christmas sales

DEPARTMENT stores John Lewis and House of Fraser say they have experienced strong Christmas sales, just days after rival Debenhams issued a major profits warning.

John Lewis, which has a store in Newcastle, said like-for-like sales increased by 6.9 per cent from a year ago, with sales at stores rising 1.2 per cent in the five weeks to December 28.

It also saw online sales increase by 23 per cent.

House of Fraser, which has stores in Darlington, Middlesbrough and the MetroCentre, in Gateshead, also reported a strong Christmas, with like-for-like sales in the three weeks to December 28 up 7.3 per cent on a year ago, and online sales 57.7 per cent higher.

Andy Street, John Lewis' managing director, said: “Our shops and our online channel came together to give the customer what they really wanted and we got the pricing right too.”

The results come as Debenhams revealed the resignation of chief financial officer, Simon Herrick, after the chain warned of poor festive sales and lower than expected profits.

It now expects pre-tax profits for the six months to April 2014 to be 85m, down from 115m in the same period this year. Mr Herrick will leave in February.

The company has been upgrading and modernising stores in recent years, as well as opening new ones. It has spent £25m on refurbishing its flagship store in central London.

Debenhams plans to open a further 14 stores in the next four years, though the firm is understood to have cooled interest in opening a Darlington shop.

It has been linked with a move to convert the Crown Street offices of The Northern Echo and its sister publications into a department store.

However, a spokesman said in October there were no immediate plans to move into the town.

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