Debenhams sales flat despite marketing efforts

Debenhams’ spring summer advertising campaign and heavyweight promotional activity failed to offset the impact of bad summer weather as sales stalled over the last three months.

Debenhams ad stars amputees as part of diverse range of models.

The department store has reported flat sales at stores open for more than a year and just a 1 per cent rise in total sales in the three months to 22 June.

Online sales for the half year to date have increased 40 per cent and now account for 14 per cent of total sales. Sales on mobile devices increased 85 per cent during the period.

The department store claims to have made market share gains in the clothing, beauty and home markets.

During the period Debenhams launched the next phase of its advertising which aims to promote positive body image by not airbrushing models and featuring larger sized models and paralympians to embrace diversity.

Retail analysts at Conlumino suggest Debenhams’ promotional activity during the period had less impact than rivals’ because it tactical promotions are “ubiquitous” throughout the rest of the year. 

Michael Sharp, chief executive of Debenhams, says the performance was “robust” in what was a “challenging and volatile” environment.

He adds: “We have managed the business to reflect the market conditions, with a strong focus on stocks, margins and costs.  We are also making good progress on the four pillars of our strategy to build a leading international, multi-channel brand.  As a result, at this stage we remain comfortable with the range of market expectations for profit before tax for the year as a whole. ”

Debenhams is currently modernising its store portfolio with a complete overhaul of its flagship Oxford Street store underway. Five store refreshes have been completed and another seven are due to start this year.

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