“Given the very challenging conditions both in the UK and around the world, we are pleased to report strong cash generation of £330m.We have focused our efforts on being efficient in both stock management and delivering newness as regularly as possible, resulting in improved markdown and margin. E-Commerce sales continue to grow. UK E-Commerce growth was positive at +20% and International increased by +33%. We are now servicing 112 countries.
We also continue to expand our franchise and international business having opened 15 new stores this year, taking our total to 615 franchised outlets operating in 39 countries. Our new 13,000 nsf TOPSHOP/TOPMAN outlet in Melbourne has achieved record results. It will have been open for a year next month and is on course for £15m sales in its first year. Sydney has also recently opened, achieving a sales density equivalent to £2,170 per nsf in the first 7 weeks. Strong opening performances have also been seen in Sao Paulo, Brazil and most recently in Vancouver, Canada. We are excited to be opening tomorrow in Johannesburg, our first store in South Africa.
Our second and third fully owned TOPSHOP/TOPMAN flagship stores opened in Chicago and Las Vegas in September 2011/March 2012. We have a fourth USA flagship store due to open in The Grove, Los Angeles in spring 2013.We are excited to have opened fourteen TOPSHOP/TOPMAN concessions and developed an on-line presence with the USA Department Store group Nordstrom, which we managed to deliver from discussion to opening in September 2012 in 83 days.
It is our intention to continue to drive expansion strongly in both our USA owned stores and in our international on-line business in the year ahead. Trading conditions remain challenging, therefore exciting and engaging our customer across multi-channels is at the top of our agenda. Product handwriting, quality and value are more important than ever.
In the first 10 weeks of this year total VAT inclusive LFL sales were up +0.7% versus last year. Margin has been positive in the first 10 weeks of the year.
Finally, in these very tough times, I would like to thank all of the staff within Arcadia and Bhs for their commitment, energy and enthusiasm and our customers for their continued loyalty in shopping across our various high street brands.”
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