Debenhams sales beat expectations in Christmas period
Debenhams, the department store, beat analyst expectations in the Christmas trading period, helped by bumper online shopping and clever management of its stock of winter coats during unseasonably warm weather.
Debenhams' performance stood out in a Christmas when British retail spending as a whole recorded its weakest quarterly growth in more than a year as stores competed to offer discounts.
The retailer said on Tuesday that like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks to 9 January were up 1.9 percent, beating analyst expectations for them to rise 0.3 percent.
In the online segment, Debenhams said it had benefited from consumer confidence in its ability to deliver goods on time, while in clothing it reduced outerwear stocks, avoiding a big hit from the warm autumn which hurt sales at other retailers.
Earlier in January clothing chain Next (NXT.L) reported disappointing sales in the pre-Christmas period, saying unusually warm weather was partly to blame.
In the run-up to Christmas, Debenhams was however outshone by Britain's biggest department store chain, John Lewis, which grew sales by 5.1 percent, against Debenhams growth of 1.8 percent for the seven weeks to January 9.
The Christmas period was Debenham's last under outgoing chief executive Michael Sharp, who will leave some time this year.
Debenhams said the outcome over the period, the first of its financial year, put it on track to deliver full-year profit in line with market expectations.