Debenhams plans stores expansion

The new boss of department store chain Debenhams insisted the UK high street was "alive and well" today as he announced plans to modernise a further 25 stores and open nine new outlets over the next four years.





The expansion drive, which will create 4,050 new jobs, builds on the 20 store refurbishments the retailer announced in June.



Chief executive Michael Sharp said the expansion was a strong signal about its commitment to the UK high street, which he said Debenhams was "backing 100%".



The chain, which operates 163 stores in the UK and Ireland, eventually hopes to boost its UK store portfolio to 240. The nine new stores will open between 2012 and 2015 in Chesterfield, Burton upon Trent, Darlington, Carlow and Sligo in Ireland, Bradford, Hereford, Barnsley and Macclesfield.



The expansion update came as the firm said pre-tax profits increased 10% to £166.1 million in the 53 weeks to September 3 as it benefited from selling more of its higher margin exclusive ranges.



Debenhams said its number of international franchise stores will double to 130 over the next five years.









Mr Sharp, who took over as chief executive last month, said: "This is a strong signal that the UK high street is alive and well and we are backing it 100%.



"It also shows a very real commitment to our clear focus on growing our UK retail business."



The chain has already modernised 14 stores across the country since spring last year.



Last week Debenhams announced it would create 6,500 seasonal jobs in the run-up to Christmas.



The 20 stores to receive a makeover by 2012 are in Chester, Bournemouth, Harrow, Luton, Colchester, Harrogate, Preston, Middlesbrough, Cheltenham, Reading, Northampton, Bedford, Hull, Carlisle, Worthing, Sutton, Plymouth, Salisbury, Blackburn and Southend on Sea.



Debenhams' full-year profits improved despite a 0.3% fall in like-for-like sales excluding VAT.



Its margins were under pressure as it was forced to put on more discounts to shift stock and it struggled to pass on rising cotton prices to consumers.



But this was partly offset by selling more higher-margin exclusive products such as its Designers at Debenhams ranges.



Its tactic of discounting helped it gain share of most of its markets, including casual womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and premium health and beauty.



Debenhams also announced it is to start returning cash to shareholders through a share buy-back scheme.



Shares were up 1% following the announcement.



But Kate Calvert, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: "The announcement that the company intends to start a share buy-back confirms to us the company's limited growth prospects over the next few years and we feel it is a little premature, given the state of the UK consumer."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...