Debenhams reports sales slowdown

Department store chain Debenhams today said it was pleased with trading so far this year, despite a weakening in sales over recent weeks.

In a “year of change” for the retailer, Debenhams has moved away from concessions and focused on its exclusive ranges such as its Designers at Debenhams lines, including clothing from John Rocha and Jasper Conran.

The move away from concessions has temporarily dented sales growth but boosted profit margins as the retailer has shifted its stores around to give its own-bought products more prominence.

Like-for-like sales decreased by 0.4% over the 42 weeks to June 19, compared with the 0.3% increase seen in April. One analyst estimated that sales were down by around 2.5% over the most recent 11-week trading period.

Chief executive Rob Templeman said: “We are pleased with the performance of the business so far this year and we continue to make progress in delivering our strategy of improving margins and profits through increasing the own bought element of our sales mix.

“2010 has been a year of change for Debenhams and a year when we will judge the performance of the business on profit improvement.”

Debenhams has 11 stores in Ireland employing around 2,400 people.

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