Saturday 24 February 2018

Debenhams to expand overseas and in UK as profits rise

Debenhams has 14 stores on the island of Ireland. Photo: Reuters
Debenhams has 14 stores on the island of Ireland. Photo: Reuters
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

RETAIL giant Debenhams is to increase the number of stores in the UK and overseas as the company enjoyed a hike in profits in the year to September.

The high-street department store said it was planning 17 new stores in the UK with 1,700 jobs.

Some 20 new shops will be opened overseas, including outlets in Bulgaria, Estonia, Egypt and Turkey. None are planned for Ireland.

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said he was delighted with the results.

"Achieving strong sales and profits despite a very difficult market is testament to the success of our great value and stylish products," Mr Sharp said.

Debenhams announced it would be running a Christmas TV ad for the first time in six years, and promised 6,500 seasonal jobs.

The group revealed its expansion plans as it reported a 4.2pc rise in pre-tax profits to £158.3m (€197m) for the year to September 1 after a recent sales revival. Exclusive ranges from a star line-up of fashion designers -- including Henry Holland and Julien MacDonald -- helped the group grow its share of the competitive womenswear market, with group-wide like-for-like sales up 1.6pc excluding VAT over the year.

Debenhams posted a 39.8pc leap in online sales to £250.6m (€312m) in the year, prompting it to increase its medium-term target to £600m (€747m) from £500m (€622m).

The locations for the 17 new UK stores in the pipeline include Cheshire Oaks, Fort Kinnaird, Beverley, Wandsworth, Scunthorpe, Darlington, Shrewsbury and Newport, South Wales.

Seven new franchised Debenhams stores expanded Debenhams into countries including Russia and Pakistan this year. They bring the total number of Debenhams overseas stores to 70.

In Ireland the group has four outlets in Dublin, two in Cork, and one each in Belfast, Derry, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Tralee and Newry.

Irish Independent

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