Debenhams hails return to sales growth
Department store group Debenhams today said its strategy to focus on in-house product ranges was paying off after a return to like-for-like sales growth in its new financial year.
The group, which has 167 stores across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, has stripped back concession space in recent months to focus on brands including designer collections from Henry Holland and Ben de Lisi.
The move cost the high street retailer around 1.5pc in like-for-like sales, resulting in flat same-store sales for the year to August 28.
But the group said it was encouraged by the start to the new financial year and had seen a return to like-for-like growth in recent weeks.
The merits of its strategic overhaul were bolstered further by a 20pc increase in profits to £151m (€170m) in the year to August 28, on a 10.9pc increase of revenues to £2.1bn.
Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, said the group remained concerned about the general retail environment and now awaited the important Christmas trading period.
He added: "In spite of the uncertain outlook, there is much to be positive about our business which will enable us to make further progress over the next year."
Debenhams said its product strategy had led to an increase in market share in clothing, footwear and accessories by 0.2pc, with the strongest performance in menswear and childrenswear.
The group said it continued to expand its in-house range, with new menswear and homeware lines released towards the end of the year.
As part of its strategy to put margins ahead of sales, set out 18 months ago, Debenhams has also completed a series of store refits and openings, as well as developed its website.
The group opened six new stores in the financial year, and completed refits in Manchester, Glasgow and Swindon. It is currently in the process of refitting five stores, with a further five scheduled for next year.
In November 2009, Debenhams bought the Danish department store Magasin du Nord, which it said was performing well since the acquisition.
The group said its online drive had seen an 88.4pc leap in sales on website Debenhams Direct to £103.8m in the last financial year. The store recently launched a shopping app for iPhones.