This winter’s bad weather saw Debenhams lose up to 3% of like-for-like sales in the 19 weeks to January 8, the retailer said today.
One analyst estimates that that equates to some £30m in lost sales and £13m in gross profit.
As a result, like-for-likes excluding VAT fell 1.3% in total over the period, but group gross transaction value was up 4.2% and Debenhams Direct and the in-store ordering service recorded a sales increase of 88.5%. The stores also continued to gain market share and gross margin was ahead of last year’s.
A new department store opened in Bath in September, and two further stores are scheduled to open over the remainder of the financial year: a department store in Wakefield and a Desire store in Fareham. Store refits were also completed in Leeds City Centre, Merryhill, Milton Keynes, Portsmouth and Romford.
Chief executive Rob Templeman said the performance of the business had been “pleasing, especially given the widespread disruption in December caused by bad weather, which undoubtedly impacted group like-for-like sales by 2.5 to 3% over the 19-week period.
“Looking forward, we are cautious about the robustness of consumer sentiment for the remainder of the financial year. Despite this, we have a clear strategy of self-help initiatives which focus on gross margin management, driving market share and growth through expansion and investment, which we believe will enable Debenhams to continue to make progress over the coming months.”