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Business Comment

Jim Armitage: Saying 'bah, humbug' to suppliers is not good business

Outlook What a pity to see Debenhams turning itself into Scrooge & Marley's counting house just a week before Christmas. But well done to the markets for smelling a rat.

It emerged on Tuesday that the department stores' giant wrote to suppliers of its own-branded clobber demanding price cuts of 2.5 per cent. It said it needed them to contribute to its investment plans.

Its justification was that the suppliers will benefit from the extra sales generated from revamped stores, new shops and so on.

The markets, though, can't help feeling bringing in such discounts at its busiest time of the year smacks of desperation.

Shares in Debs, which had already slipped 4 per cent on Tuesday, fell a further 5 per cent yesterday and the company is fast looking like a Christmas loser. Saying "bah, humbug" to the squeals of suppliers may work short term, but it's not a responsible way to run a business. Just ask Scrooge.