RETAIL UPDATE: Like for likes down at Debenhams

But department store chain takes market share from competitors in all major categories.
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Debenhams has stated that profit is ahead of this time last year in its interim results which were revealed this morning.

For the 12 weeks since the chain last reported on October 21st 2008, gross transaction value was 1.1 per cent higher than last year. Like for like sales for this period decreased by 3.3 per cent. This represented an improvement over the like for like decline of 4.2 per cent recorded for the first six weeks of the financial year.

Meanwhile, for the 18 weeks ending January 3rd 2009, gross transaction value was 0.6 per cent above the comparative period last year. Like for like sales were 3.5 per cent lower than last year, however Debenhams has continued to take market share from competitors in all major categories.

The Designers at Debenhams brands made a strong contribution to market share gains and to the overall performance of the business.

Total number of stores in the UK and Ireland now stands at 153 compared to 146 at this time last year.

Meanwhile, online business Debenhams Direct continued to grow with YTD visitor numbers and sales up 39.2 per cent and 37.4 per cent respectively. The international franchise business saw seven new stores in five countries opening during the period.

"Our trading strategy for the first 18 weeks of the year has resulted in further market share gains and a creditable sales performance given the extremely difficult and volatile conditions seens across the High Street," said Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams.

"Looking forward, the trading environment is likely to remain challenging for the whole retail sector. We will continue to focus on bringing fashionable and stylish products to the consumer as well as managing the business with an emphasis on the tight control of costs, stocks and capital."

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