Debenhams drove sales up by 8.4% to £1,417.2m in the half year to February 27, the department store retailer said today.
Results excluding the acquisition of Denmark’s leading department store chain Magasin du Nord showed that sales rose 1.7% to £1,329.0m. Like-for-like sales were up 0.3%, while pre-tax profit was £120.5m, a rise of 17.9%. Operating profit increased by 8.8% to £146.6m.
Debenhams said that trading conditions across the retail sector were broadly stable during the first half as consumers’ concerns over unemployment and government finances were
countered by low interest rates and higher disposable income. The Christmas trading period held up reasonably well , but sales were impacted by poor weather across the in early January.
A major focus at the retailer now is to develop ranges of own-bought sales at the expense of concessions. As a result, sales of own-bought merchandise increased by 9.4% over the previous year whilst concessions were down 22.5%.
Four new stores were opened during the first half, including a flagship department store in Newcastle-upon-Tyne which opened in February. Two more are scheduled to open in the second half: Carmarthen this month and Bury in July.
The retailer said that all the new stores were performing in line with or better than expectations.
Meanwhile, internet sales grew strongly during the period, up 85.9% to £50.6m, with some 1.5m visits to the website each week.