Annual profits rise at Debenhams
Department store Debenhams raised its targets for online and international growth after showing its resilience to weak market conditions with a 4.2 per cent rise in year profit.
The group this morning said it had raised its medium-term target for online sales from £500 million (€618 million) to £600 million and its five year target for total franchise stores from 130 to 150.
Debenhams, which trades from about 170 stores in Britain, Ireland and Denmark, and over 60 international franchise stores, made a pre-tax profit of £158.3 million in the year to September 1.
That was slightly ahead of analysts' consensus expectations of £157.5 million and up from |£152 million in the 2010-11 year.
Total sales increased 2.6 per cent to £2.71 billion, while sales at stores open over a year, excluding VAT sales tax, rose 1.6 per cent.
The firm won market share in womenswear and grew or maintained share in all other areas.
Many retailers have been finding the going tough as disposable incomes are squeezed by government austerity measures and with wages growth not keeping up with rises in prices.
Debenhams has bucked the gloomy trend, helped by its breadth of products, broad range of customers, multiple routes to market and increased marketing spend.
The firm, which paid a full year dividend of 3.3 pence, up 10 per cent, said its share buyback programme would continue this year with up to £40 million to be spent.
"Whilst we don't anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in 2013, we expect to make further progress during the year," said chief executive Michael Sharp.
Shares in Debenhams, up 59 per cent over the last year, closed Wednesday at 109 pence, valuing the business at £1.38 billion.