Debenhams total sales rise 3.9%

Department store Debenhams has today reported a total sales increase of 3.9 per cent for the 16 weeks to June 23rd 2012.

In an interim management statement published this morning, the group announced a like-for-like sales increase of three per cent and believes that these positive results were driven by consumer interest in recent events including the Euro 2012 Championships and the Diamond Jubilee.

Online sales have also seen a significant rise, growing 34.9 per cent over the period, an increase of 40.2 per cent in the year-to-date, a boost that has seen the retailer become the eleventh biggest UK retailer by traffic volume.

Earlier this month, the group announced the roll out of free Wifi across 167 of its UK stores, giving it the largest Wifi coverage of any other UK department store.

Speaking at the time, Debenhams Director Simon Forster commented. “With over one million customers already with our app on their phones, free Wifi in stores has the potential to transform how people shop.”

Mobile commerce is now the fastest growing channel for the group, accounting for 30 per cent of website traffic.

Similarly, a focus on seasonal clothing has helped boost market share, particularly in womenswear which saw a ten basis point share improvement, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

The retailer‘s strong results amid ongoing economic instability have allowed it to maintain focus on international expansion, and outside the UK two new franchise stores have opened during its second half.

In total, the group now has 68 international stores with another set to open later this year and a further eight to being trading in 2013. In the UK, nine stores completed modernisations earlier this month with a further nine expected to be finished by the end of September.

Michael Sharp, Debenhams CEO, welcomed the results, saying: “We have continued to make good progress and I am particularly pleased with the like-for-like sales trends in the second half of the year.

“Debenhams has again demonstrated the efficacy of our strategy to build a leading international, multi-channel brand and our ability to trade well in difficult market conditions, as well as the inherent strength of the department store model.”

Although CBI figures released yesterday revealed that 58 per cent of retailers reported an increase in sales on a year ago, Sharp remains cautious about future trading.

“Looking forward, there is little sign of an imminent recovery in consumer confidence,” he said.

“Our focus for the remainder of this financial year and into next year will therefore be the remorseless execution of the four pillars of our strategy which we believe will bring success irrespective of the wider economy.”

The board of Debenhams plc also announced today a Directorate change as non-executive Director Adam Crozier is to step down from his role on September 1st 2012.

Dennis Millard will succeed Crozier, who has worked for the company since May 2006, as Chairman of the remuneration committee while Mark Rolfe will in turn succeed Mr. Millard as Chairman of the audit committee.


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