BEALES says its sales rose during the crucial Christmas trading period at a time when other department stores saw their figures drop.

The Bournemouth-based department store reported that sales rose 4.2 per cent in continuing stores in the six weeks that ended just after Christmas.

Chief executive Tony Brown said a focus on promotions and offers had kept customers interested.

“We were promotionally driven. We had to respond to the market. We were very acutely aware of what customers were responding to,” he said.

“Every time we tried a promotion that worked, we continued it until it stopped working and then committed to another one.”

He said social media had played a key role in the performance.

“Our customers responded exceptionally well to that. Every time we focused on Facebook or emailers, we saw significant increases in the lines we went after,” he said.

Small electrical appliances, linen and fashion, especially menswear, had done particularly well, he said. Some lines had to be restocked after selling out.

Last week, Debenhams said sales fell 2.6 per cent in the 17 weeks to December 30, although they improved closer to Christmas, up 1.2 per cent over the six-week festive trading period.

House of Fraser has sought rent reductions at a number of its sites after sales fell 2.6 per cent in the 17 weeks to December 30.

Mr Brown said Beales’ Bournemouth and Poole stores had performed well, despite his concerns that Poole council had not drawn sufficient attention to the reopening of the Dolphin Centre’s refurbished car park.

“We had a difficult start with Poole because of the car park but managed to pull it back and at the end Poole had a good increase,” he said.

“The January sale period, which is just as important as Christmas, continues to significantly outperform what we thought we would get out of it.”

Mr Brown said Beales had been holding daily conference calls in the run-up to Christmas to see what promotions were working.

A sale which was due to start the week before Christmas was put off until Boxing Day because trading was going well. Staff stayed late on Christmas Eve to set up for the sale.

“We managed to get the changeover done probably in one-and-a-half days that would have taken a week normally to do,” said Mr Brown.

“We’re a private business, we can react quickly and don’t have these unbreakable strategies. We have a strategy in place until we don’t.

He praised staff for their contributions. “We have this manta ‘One team, one dream’. What pleased me was the team got behind it,” he said.

Mr Brown said the “retail landscape” remained “exceptionally challenging” but that the chain of 21 stores was investing in stock and staff.

“There’s a lot going on from an investment point of view that will bear fruit over the next two or three years,” he added.

Beales, which was founded in Bournemouth in 1881, was bought by property investor Andrew Perloff for just £1.2million in 2015.

The following year, it closed 20 stores and negotiated a company voluntary arrangement to cut the rent on loss-making branches.