An uplift in trading during the end of the period pushed first half like-for-like (LFL) sales at department store chain Debenhams into growth, it was revealed today.
For the full 26 weeks ending March 3rd 2012, gross LFLs at the retailer increased 1.4 per cent while LFLs excluding VAT rose 0.3 per cent year-on-year – an improvement from the flat growth seen in the first 18 week of the period.
During the last eight weeks of the half LFL sales saw a marked improvement and rose 2.4 per cent year-on-year, as a successful winter sale and an “encouraging” start to the new season helped boost revenues.
Michael Sharp, CEO of Debenhams, said: “I am pleased with our performance in the first half which resulted in like-for-like sales growth despite challenging conditions across the retail sector.
“Our priority in the second half is to continue executing our strategy, centred on the four pillars of focusing on UK retail, delivering a compelling customer proposition, increasing availability and choice through multi-channel and expanding the brand internationally.”
The ‘Life Made Fabulous’ spring marketing campaign, spearheaded by a glossy TV advert featuring several famous designers, has been well received by customers, according to Debenhams, after it launched in mid-February.
Earlier this month the group introduced the Nautica fashion brand to its stores, after also recently adding the J Jeans by Jasper Conran and FFP brands to its range of clothing.
Retail sales across the sector remain sluggish as consumer finances remain constrained, but Sharp believes that the modest progress made during the tough condition of the first half period can be built over the next six months.
“Whilst it is prudent to remain cautious about the health of the wider economy and the impact this may have on consumer behaviour in the short-term, we remain comfortable with the outlook for the full year,” Sharp commented.
“Over the medium-term, we are confident of the benefits that our strategy will bring to Debenhams.”