Retailer ‘gaining market share in Ireland’

British department store operator Debenhams has said it is gaining market share in Ireland, despite the continuing difficult trading conditions.

The company entered the Irish market in 2006, via its acquisition of Roche’s Stores, and currently operates 15 stores on the island of Ireland — 11 of which are located in the Republic.

“The Republic of Ireland continues to be a difficult market, as evidenced by depressed consumer sentiment, but we believe we are gaining market share,” management said.

Debenhams issued its half-year results — covering the six months to the beginning of March — yesterday, showing a 5.4% annualised drop in first-half group pre-tax profits to £120.3m (€140.5m).

The lower-than-expected profits were mainly attributed to the harsh winter weather seen in Debenhams’ core UK marketplace.

“We made progress during the first half,although snow inlate January meant we did not achieve the profitoutcome we hadexpected,” group chief executive Michael Sharp said.

“We expect to make further progress in the second half, despite consumer sentiment remaining weak and challenging market conditions,” he added.

Debenhams grew its group sales — on a like-for-like basis — during its first half by over 3%. However, the operating profits at its core UK operations fell by nearly 7% to £104.8m.

Debenhams’ Irish operations are included in its international division — the business operates across 28 countries — which increasedoperating profit by 1.3% to £22.7m on a year-on-year basis.

However, the international business took a £3.8m hit resulting from the closure of Debenhams’ operations in Romania.

On a group footing, earnings per share grew by 2.7% — year-on-year — to 7.6p; an interim dividend of 1p per share has been recommended and total net debt was up by nearly £10m to £321.6m.

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