Debenhams and M&S report good festive sales at international branches

TWO British high street giants with significant Irish operations — Debenhams and Marks and Spencer — have reported positive sales for the festive period.

M&S saw sales in its international division — which includes Ireland — grow by over 8% in its third quarter, but that growth was mainly driven by sales in the priority markets of India and China.

On an overall basis, the high street giant recorded year-on-year sales growth of 2.4% for the three months to the end of December. Total sales in its core British market grew by 1.8% — largely driven by a 4.5% increase in food sales.

The international division was also aided by a “very good start” to the newly opened flagship store in Paris. M&S does not break down performance on a country-by-country basis outside of Britain, but in Ireland — where it has 21 stores and has been consistently strong in recent years — the company recently said that it had been impacted by a slowdown in the local economy.

Regarding the latest quarter, Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive, said that the business performed well in a challenging trading environment, but that — “in light of ongoing macro-economic uncertainty” — management expects trading conditions to remain “challenging”.

“We continue to be cautious about the outlook for the year ahead,” Mr Bolland said. “Our focus will be on offering our customers great value and quality at a time when they are managing their budgets carefully.”

Meanwhile, Debenhams has reported a 1.4% increase in group sales for the 18 weeks up to January 7.

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said that the company remains cautious about the strength of the British economy and its impact on consumer behaviour over the remainder of the firm’s financial year.

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