Aurum festive sales beat expectations

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Retailer reports ‘robust’ sales up 3.1%

Aurum outperformed expectations over the festive trading period, managing to hold its prices in the run up to Christmas and improve its net margins. The retail group described sales as “robust”, rising 3.1% in the nine weeks to January 3.

Aurum’s strategy this year sharply contrasts with the heavy discounting employed last year that saw it give away millions of pounds worth of discounts at its Goldsmiths, Mappin & Weeb and Watches of Switzerland stores.

Despite the encouraging Christmas results, Aurum said that its outlook for 2010 remains cautious. Aurum chairman Don McCarthy said: "There is no doubt that 2010 will be difficult for the retailing sector and so we remain cautious for the 12 months ahead."

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In November Aurum agreed a refinancing deal that halved its debt to about £55m, increasing its management’s stake from 20% to 33%, to help bolster “strong” expansion plans. The retailer formerly backed by Icelandic investor Baugur converted £42m of debt into equity and gave away a 67% stake to institutions such as Iceland’s Landsbanki bank.

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