Credit: John Lewis

The 10 biggest retail winners and losers of Christmas 2014

The season of cheer and Black Friday brought mixed fortunes for Britain's retailers.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 17 Feb 2016

Winners

Asos

It would be fair to say the online fashion retailer had a lousy 2014. A fire at its Barnsley fulfilment centre, a string of profit warnings and difficulty overseas thanks to the strength of the pound hit its share price hard. Christmas brought better news though. Sales in the six weeks to January 9th were up 15%, which sent its share price up 6%.  

Fortnum & Mason

It was a big year for the 300-year old department store, which opened its first outlet outside the UK in Dubai in March. Well-heeled Londoners and wealthy tourists helped Fortnum's rake in its highest Christmas revenues ever, with sales in the five weeks to January 4th up 18.3%.

Greggs

Don't call it a bakery. Greggs has ditched its in-store cake makers in favour of a focus on coffee, sandwiches and other food for the worker on-the-go, in a bid to turn its fortunes around. It seems to have paid off – like-for-like sales in the five weeks to January 4th were up 8.2%. 

John Lewis

Andy Street, John Lewis's chief executive, decried the 'Black Friday' phenomenon earlier this month, suggesting that it put pressure on fulfilment and hit profits. It doesn't seem to have done his company much harm though - sales in the five weeks to December 27th were up 5.8%. Its sister company Waitrose didn't do so badly either, with sales up 6.5% in the five weeks to December 27th.

Next

Next complained in Autumn of an 'Indian Summer' blighting its sales of wintery clothing, as Brits opted to spend their weekends enjoying the sun rather than investing in heavy coats. Things improved for the retailer in the run up to Christmas though, helping it deliver 2.9% growth in the period between October 28th and December 24th, despite shunning Black Friday discounts. Meanwhile, investors in rival Debenhams were decidely unimpressed with the department store's perfomance.

Losers

Bank Fashion

Though a relatively small fashion chain, Bank hit the headlines in January as the first major business to go into administration this year. The company was owned by JD Sports until November, when it was sold to 'turnaround specialists' Hilco, who proceeded to fail to turn it around. Fortunately this hasn't yet led to total collapse – the stores remained open and the staff have been paid, and administrators said they had been approached by potential buyers.

Game Digital

Black Friday wasn't a success for the video games retailer, which floated just eight months ago after going into administration in 2012. Today it admitted that it had sold lots of new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles in promotions, driving down average selling prices and forcing the group to issue a profit warning. The company's value plummeted by more than 50% today, trading as low as 153p after closing at 348p yesterday, although they have since recovered to around 240p.

M&S

The vultures are circling once more around M&S chief executive Marc Bolland after clothes sales at the retailer continued to fall. To be fair to Bolland, M&S food continues to do well, with sales up 17% in the week leading up to Christmas. But like-for-like non-food sales slumped 5.8% in the 13 weeks to December 2014, its 14th consecutive month of decline, a problem exacerbated by delivery delays as it struggled to cope with the Black Friday rush. This dragged down the store's like-for-like UK sales in the quarter by 2.7%.

Morrisons

A not-so-happy new year for Dalton Philips, who became the first big corporate casualty of the year when he was ousted from the top job at Britain's fourth largest supermarket chain. Morrison's has struggled in the face of competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl and this showed in its Christmas results –  like-for-like sales were down 3.6% in the six weeks to January 4th. This made it the worst performing of the supermarket chains this Christmas.

Sainsbury's

Morrison's wasn't the only supermarket to have a less-than-merry Christmas. Sainsbury's reported a drop in like-for-like sales of 1.7% (3.9% including fuel)  in the 14 weeks to January, better than analysts expected, but still not great. The really bad news came this week though, when it announced 500 staff would be cut from its regional service centres. Sainsbury's problem-ridden cousin Tesco escaped joining this list thanks to the news its sales were down just 0.3% in the six weeks to January 3rd, as 'Drastic' Dave Lewis began his bid to turn things around.

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