Debenhams' first-half performance was "pleasing given the difficult trading environment", the retailer said this week.

Debenhams’ first-half sales up 3.2%

Debenhams’ first-half performance was “pleasing given the difficult trading environment”, the retailer said this week.

Debenhams' first-half sales up 3.2%

In a trading update for the 26 weeks to February 26, the department store group revealed that gross transaction value increased by 3.2% over the previous year, although like-for-like sales were flat including VAT and down 1.5% excluding VAT.

The retailer said it had been able to offset some pressures on gross margins by its focus on the drivers of cash margin, in particular the own-bought sales mix and markdown management. It said it also expected terminal stocks at the end of the half year to be at an all-time low. As a result, gross margin increased during the first half over the previous year. In addition, first-half pre-tax profit is expected to be ahead of last year.

Debenhams said that its plans to create a truly integrated multi-channel business continued to move forward, with sales from Debenhams Direct surging 82.4% during the first half of the year. The retailer has focused on improving multi-channel access points with the launch of the iPhone app and Debenhams TV, and rolling out self-service order kiosks to more stores.

A new department store opened in Wakefield during the period, and the second half will see one launched in Fareham.

Commenting on the first-half figures, chief executive Rob Templeman said: “Our performance in the first half has been pleasing given the difficult trading environment.” But he warned: “Looking forward, it is clear that disposable income is under pressure from inflation, public sector spending cuts and higher taxation. As a result, trading across the UK high street is likely to be difficult in the second half of the year.”

Check Also

What More UK Agrees Export Deal with Sri Lanka

What More UK has agreed the terms of a deal which will see its products …