Debenhams bucks retail trend
BRITISH RETAILER Debenhams unveiled plans to deliver growth overseas as rising profits showed its resilience to weaker home market conditions.
Britain’s second largest department store group has bucked the gloomy trend in a retail sector badly affected by weak consumer confidence. Shares in Debenhams, up 59 per cent over th last year, rose 6 per cent after it increased its target for online sales to £600 million from £500 million through the next three to five years.
The group also upped its target for overseas franchise stores from 130 to 150, with a focus on openings in the Middle East and Asia.
Debenhams currently trades from about 170 stores in Britain, Ireland and Denmark, and 71 overseas franchise stores.
The group, which ranks behind rival John Lewis in terms of annual sales, also posted a 4.2 per cent increase in full-year pretax profit to £158.3 million, against a forecast £157.5 million, driven by its width of products, appeal to a range of customers and multiple routes to market.
Yet the company did not see any general upturn in the sector.
“We’ve seen no significant change in consumer confidence in the last six to nine months, and customers are acclimatising to what life is like in these challenging economic times,” said chief executive Michael Sharp.
He expects the UK to be as competitive as last year in the run-up to Christmas, the main selling season for most retailers. He does not anticipate a significant improvement in the economic environment in 2013, but said he does expect Debenhams to make further progress. – (Reuters)