Debenhams figures throw doubt on bad weather claims

Department store Debenhams has announced plans to open 11 new stores. Figures released at the same time as the announcement cast doubt on other retailers’ claims that bad weather is to blame for poor high-street trading.

A trading statement released yesterday revealed that like-for-like sales rose by 3.3 per cent in the 20 weeks to July 15, while gross margin was up 0.1 per cent. In the ten weeks to July 15, like-for-like sales rose by 6.6 per cent.

A spokeswoman for Debenhams says that the introduction of designer brands, such as its Oswell Boateng and Jasper Conran ranges, has bolstered sales.

She adds: “The wide product range of department stores is protecting them from the impact of bad weather.”

Marks & Spencer is expected to announce a similar rise in like-for-like sales at its AGM today, which analysts say was driven by the introduction of its designer range Autograph.

Earlier this week clothing retailer New Look blamed a 3.9 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in the 15 weeks to July 9 on bad summer weather.

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