Jan 5, 2010
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Shop Direct Christmas sales up 6.3 percent

Jan 5, 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - Shop Direct, the online and home shopping group that owns the Littlewoods and Woolworths brands, posted a 6.3 percent rise in sales for the six weeks to January 1, adding to signs of a healthy Christmas for retailers.

Photo: www.littlewoods.com

The firm, owned by entrepreneurial brothers David and Frederick Barclay, said on Tuesday 5 January growth was driven by a 19 percent rise in online sales and that it was on track for the Internet to account for 70 percent of group sales next financial year, up from about 65 percent currently.

"Although 2010 will continue to be challenging in the retail sector, we are confident that the customer-led changes we have made will propel the business forward," said Chief Executive Mark Newton-Jones.

The update follows a similar pattern of strong Christmas trading, but caution about the future, from fashion retailer next and department stores group John Lewis.

Retailers are concerned that, after benefiting from lower mortgage rates in 2009, consumers will be hit by rising taxes in 2010 as the government takes to steps to rein in borrowing.

Shop Direct, which has annual sales of about 1.7 billion pounds and calls itself the country's biggest online and home shopping retailer, bought the Woolworths brand in February following the collapse of the 100-year-old sweets-to-DVD chain.

It relaunched the brand online in June.

(Reporting by Mark Potter; editing by John Stonestreet)

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