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Home » Fenwick Enjoys ‘late Christmas’ As Retail Sector Sees Encouraging Signs

Fenwick Enjoys ‘late Christmas’ As Retail Sector Sees Encouraging Signs

Retail chain Fenwick is seeing a “late Christmas” amid early signs of recovery for the retail industry, its boss has said.

Speaking to the BBC, Fenwick CEO John Edgar said the Newcastle-based chain, which has nine stores around the UK, had seen slow sales at the start of this month but that activity had increased in the last few week weeks. He named the soft toy brand Jellycat as a particular favourite among shoppers and explained why Fenwick had chosen to shun the Black Friday sales event.

Mr Edgar was speaking as official figures showed that UK retail sales grew stronger than expected last month as shoppers snapped up Black Friday bargains and bought Christmas presents. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes increased by 1.3% in November, ahead of the predictions of economists, who had forecast 0.4% growth for the month.

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Mr Edgar said: “December has been a slower start to the month than we expected but certainly things have been picking up, certainly in the last week or two, quite significantly, leading up to what I’d call a late Christmas. People are being a bit more discerning about what they’re buying but we’re seeing great performance on things like fragrance, handbags, food and beverage. Individual items like Jellycat have been flying off the shelves.

“Black Friday has morphed into a Black November for many retailers, which personally I don’t think is a good thing. We’ve never gone down that route and we don’t really do Black Friday as a retailer. Some people have taken a similar view over time and have moved away from that wider discounting and some people think it’s right for them. I think it just spreads spend over a period of time and ultimately hits your margin.”

John Edgar, CEO of Fenwick (Image: Coreena Ford) Fenwick – whose annual Christmas window display continues to draw big crowds – recently announced a return to profit in its annual accounts, helped by online sales, rising footfall and a £430m deal to sell its Mayfair store. The sale of the Bond Street store shop helped it invest £40m into its flagship Newcastle shop.

Mr Edgar said: “We’re very fortunate as a retailer – we own the vast majority of our property. Bond Street in London was an important store for us but it enabled us to reinvest in the rest of our business, especially coming out of the pandemic, and we’ve been using that money to spend on really exciting investments in Newcastle, which is our heartland and our biggest store, but also Kingston and Brent Cross.

“It was a difficult decision to make but definitely the right one and it’s allowed us to re-define and create a new foundation for our business.”

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