Debenhams to meet profit forecasts
Debenhams, Britain's second-largest department store group, said it would meet forecasts for year profit after posting a rise in underlying sales in its final quarter, winning market share.
The firm, which trades from 167 stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, and 61 franchise stores in 24 other countries, said sales at stores open over a year rose 3.7 per cent, excluding VAT sales tax, in the 10 weeks to September 1.
That compares with a rise of 3.1 per cent in the 16 weeks to June 23 and took the increase for the year to 1.6 per cent - ahead of analysts' consensus expectations of up 0.6 per cent.
Analysts' expectations are for 2011-12 gross margin around 30 basis points lower than 2010-11 and a pre-tax profit of about £156 million (€193 million), up from £152 million.
Many British retailers are finding the going tough as consumers' disposable incomes have been squeezed by rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures.
Debenhams has fared better than most, helped by its broad width of products, broad range of customers, multiple routes to market and shrewd marketing.
The firm has also supplemented its core clothing offer by developing its beauty, accessories and home business.
That alleviated the impact record summer rainfall had on seasonal clothing categories, particularly womenswear.
"We do not anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in the near future but we expect to continue to make progress in 2013," said chief executive Michael Sharp.