Debenhams signals expansion plans despite sales dip

Department store chain Debenhams is to rapidly convert huge swathes of concession space to its own brand ranges, the retailer has announced after posting an 11% rise in profits for the six months to end of February.

Department store chain Debenham’s is to rapidly convert huge swathes of concession space to its own brand ranges, the retailer has announced after posting an 11% rise in profits for the six months to end of February.

The retailer says it will also stay on the look out for acquisition opportunities on the high street as the recession continues to weaken its competition, following its recent purchase of the Principles stock after the latter’s parent group X went into administration.

The country’s second-biggest department stores chain, which runs over 150 shops across the UK and Ireland, reported this morning (Thursday 23) it made pretax profit of 104.2 million pounds ($151.8 million) in the 26 weeks to February 28, although its like for like sales dropped by 3.6%.

It says it will expand its own bought ranges into 450,000 sq ft floorspace currently occupied by concession brands such as fashion retailer Oasis, after own bought sales increased by 4.4% against an 11.8% decline in concession sales.

The plans to add more brands to its Designer at Debenham’s ranges at the end of the summer follow particularly strong sales growth of 11% of collections including Star by Julien MacDonald in womenswear and John Rocha’s menswear collection for the retailer.

The move will underpin its “medium term” target to ensure at least 80-85% of stock in each store is own-bought, it says. Signalling is intention to act aggressively to snap up weaker rivals, the retailer says in its half year report that, “given the current shake-out on the high street, its is possible that other opportunities [similar to Principles] will arise in the coming months and we will seek to take advantage.”

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