Debenhams sales boosted by big events
The retailer said like-for-like sales, excluding VAT, rose 3.1% in the 16 weeks to 23 June, which includes its fiscal third quarter. Group gross transaction value increased by 3.9%.
Although admitting that trading had been "challenging", Debenhams said its sales growth had come through meeting its customers' needs, especially around key events when footfall was at its highest such as Easter, Mother's Day, the Diamond Jubilee and month-ends.
"Our success in driving sales was supported by investment in marketing around both our premium 'life made fabulous' theme and these calendar events," the company said.
Debenhams added that the ongoing development of its business in non-clothing categories such as beauty, accessories and home helped to alleviate the impact of the cold, wet spring on its seasonal clothing sales, especially womenswear.
The retailer increased its online sales by 34.9% in the period with mobile continuing to be the fastest growing channel accounting for about 30% of website traffic. The retailer has recently introduced free wi-fi for customers to use across all of its UK stores.
Debenhams said it was continuing to expand outside the UK. Two new franchise stores were opened during the second half bringing the total number of stores to 68 with one further store due to open this year and eight more next year. The retailer's six Magasin du Nord stores in Denmark performed well, delivering growth in both gross transaction value and like-for-like sales. The soft launch of the Debenhams German website took place in May as planned.
Michael Sharp, chief executive of Debenhams, said: "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.
"Looking forward, there is little sign of an imminent recovery in consumer confidence. 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."
In separate announcement Debenhams said that non-executive director Adam Crozier will step down from his role on 1 September. Crozier has served as a director since May 2006.
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