Wednesday 17 January 2018

Increase in sales at Debenhams despite 'headwinds'

John Mulligan

SALES at Debenhams rose 1.5pc in the six months to June 25, with the retailer saying the past two months in particular had seen good sales trends.

Britain's second-largest department store chain after Marks & Spencer, Debenhams warned that cost pressure on its supply chain remains but that it was managing input inflation well by taking action, such as the realignment of its "range architecture", meaning its product line-up.

"Cash management remains our key focus and in the second half of the year our approach has been to invest some gross margin in driving top-line growth, resulting in higher like-for-like sales," said the company's interim management statement yesterday.

While like-for-like sales, excluding VAT, were 1.5pc higher in the six months to June 25, they were down 0.4pc in the 43 weeks to the same date.

The company added that it expected its gross margin for the current financial year to be "broadly neutral" and that pre-tax profit would be in line with expectations. Net debt is likely to be £400m (€442m) at the year end.

Chief executive Rob Templeman -- who is retiring in September -- said that Debenhams was making progress despite "significant headwinds".

Meanwhile, pre-tax profits from continuing operations at struggling music retailer HMV fell 73pc in its last financial year to £18.8m (€20.8m) as the company tries to shore up its market position by selling assets.

Releasing preliminary results for the 53 weeks to the end of April, HMV said that revenue from its remaining business -- it completed the sale this week of its operations in Canada and Waterstones outlets, including Hodges Figgis in Dublin -- fell 14.5pc.

Group like-for-like sales were down 11pc to £1.86bn.

HMV has been fighting to survive as its core revenue base -- the selling of music, games and videos -- is heavily eroded as it is assaulted by internet downloading.

Total HMV sales in the UK and Ireland declined 13.6pc to £1.07bn and by 14.8pc on a like-for-like basis.

Irish Independent

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