Debenhams plots overseas expansion after results fillip

Debenhams, the department store, has revealed plans to ramp up its international expansion as it announced strong annual results.

The chain reported pre-tax profits were up 67.9% to £267.4m for the year to September 2 with sales rising by 6.6%.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman says that the Designers at Debenhams range, which includes lines from Jasper Conran, Julien Macdonald and Betty Jackson, have been key to the improved performance.

But Templeman warns that the high street has been volatile over the past seven weeks and sales have slipped 4.2%. The drop is attributed to the warm weather during October.

He adds that the company is planning to expand its international stores from 30 to 70 by 2010. It already has outlets in countries including the Czech Republic, Kuwait and Sweden and is planning to open in India and China.

It is also monitoring the reception of its new women’s concept store, Desire at Debenhams, which currently has five outlets. Templeman says there is the potential for 100 of the stores in the UK.

Templeman says: “We have a strong presence in key product categories, and the continued development of our own-brand lines, alongside the exclusive Designers at Debenhams ranges, has resulted in increased market share.”

It is the first time that the retailer has announced results since rejoining the stock exchange in May, two years after being taken into private ownership.