Debenhams post 18.6% rise in half-year profits
Department store Debenhams posted an 18.6% rise in half-year profits today and predicted stable trading ahead.
The retailer, which has 164 stores, said pre-tax profits beat market expectations, jumping to £123.6 million in the six months to February 27, compared with £104.2 million in the same period last year.
Debenhams, which has proved robust during the recession, said the second half trading environment would be "broadly neutral" for the firm.
Debenhams has looked to focus on its exclusive ranges such as its Designers at Debenhams lines, which include clothing from John Rocha, Jasper Conran, Betty Jackson and FrostFrench.
The move away from concessions has temporarily dented sales growth but boosted profit margins and the retailer has shifted its stores around to give its own-bought products more prominence.
Like-for-like sales have remained positive, with growth of 0.3% continuing throughout the half-year and up to April 3, while gross transactional values were up 8.6% in the period.
Sales for the first six months rose 11.6% to £1.19 billion.
Debenhams said new ranges during the first half included Principles by Ben de Lisi.
Principles, which traded through 94 stores as well as Debenhams concessions, succumbed to recession a year ago - but Debenhams bought stock from administrators to keep the brand in stores until the relaunch.
Debenhams said customers had responded "extremely favourably" to the new collection, which was launched in 125 stores in February and the brand will be expanded to all outlets later this year.
The retailer said another own-bought favourite was childrenswear brand Bluezoo, which it said had "undoubtedly contributed" to its market share growth.
Debenhams said that, according to recent industry figures, its slice of the total market for clothing, footwear and accessories remained stable.
Strong market share growth was seen in menswear and childrenswear, but womenswear suffered in the move to own-bought ranges and under performance at some remaining concessions.
The chain said trading across the retail sector had been stable in the first half, as customer concerns over unemployment and government finances were offset by low interest rates and higher disposable income.
Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said the firm was pleased with it performance in the period.
"Looking forward, we expect the trading environment to be broadly neutral for Debenhams in the second half," he said.
He added that the department store believed the improvements made to its own-bought ranges would "continue to find favour with customers" and help boost margins and market share in the future.
The retailer has 151 full department stores and 13 smaller format Desire by Debenhams outlets in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Denmark.
It opened four new stores during the first half - a flagship branch in Newcastle, and Desire outlets in Kidderminster, Monks Cross in York and Witney, Oxfordshire.
Two further department stores, in Carmarthen and Bury, are scheduled to open in the second half.
- 1 UK's biggest male rape charity Survivors UK has state funding slashed to zero despite 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence and seeking help
- 2 'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
UK's biggest male rape charity Survivors UK has state funding slashed to zero despite 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence and seeking help
Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
Priest warns pupils the 'Charlie Charlie Challenge' is 'demonic activity'
Tinder and Grindr dating apps blamed for surge in cases of HIV, syphilis and other STDs
Fifa corruption arrests: Sepp Blatter 'quite relaxed' and confident he is 'not involved'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...
£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...
£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...