Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Revival in Store for Top North East Retail Giants

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Revival in Store for Top North East Retail Giants

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

TWO of the best names in North East retailing have seen strong results as the economic recovery filters through to the High Street. Department store chain Fenwick has announced plans to expand, while furniture retailers Barker and Stonehouse have moved into territories outside its North East heartland. Latest accounts for the Newcastleheadquartered Fenwick Ltd show turnover grew by PS6m to PS295.8m for the 53 weeks to January 31, 2014, a rise of 2.1% on the previous 52-week period.

Gross profit also increased by 1.6% to PS132.9m, while pre-tax profit figures showed a slight fall from PS36.2m to PS35m, a drop of 3.2%.

A report accompanying the firm's annual financial performance notes a continuingly challenging trading time in 2013, despite the first shoots of recovery in the economy revealing themselves in 2013.

The firm said: "While 2013 saw the first signs of a recovery on the UK economy, a continuing squeeze on disposable income ensured a challenging environment for consumers.

"In this context, the group was pleased to record modest growth in its like-for-like sales before the addition of the extra week's trade."

The firm, which employed an average 2,285 people last year, said gross sales increased by 2.1% to PS433m, and that its own bought merchandise achieved a greater increase, a trend that has continued in 2014.

Fenwick, first opened in Newcastle by John James Fenwick in the 1880s, has grown to include nine other stores.

As well as its Newcastle store, Fenwick now has operations in London's Bond Street, Brent Cross, Leicester, York, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells and Windsor, as well as Bentalls stores in Kingston and Bracknell.

The firm said it is continuing to look for opportunities to expand its retail footprint, with plans include forming part of regeneration plans in Bracknell.

Meanwhile, results from Barker and Stonehouse saw sales increase by 13% in a year which saw the openRETAIL ing of its first store in London. …

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